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H. Special Liability in Particular Activities

1. In general; concepts

NB: Under torts, special liability is attached in certain and particular activities, primarily for the protection of the public.

2. Products liability; manufacturers or processors

a. LIABILITY FOR PRODUCT AND SERVICE

Manufacturers and processors of foodstuffs, drinks, toilet articles and similar goods shall be liable for death or injuries caused by any noxious or harmful substances used, although no contractual relation exists between them and the consumers. (Art. 2187, Ibid.)

The liabilities of a manufacturer or seller of injury-causing products may be based on negligence, breach of warranty, tort, or other grounds such as fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. (Coca-Cola Bottlers Phlippines, Inc. v. CA, G.R. No. 110295, 18 October 1993)

There is prima facie presumption of negligence on the part of the defendant if the death or injury results from his possession of dangerous weapons or substances, such as firearms and poison, except when the possession or use thereof is indispensable in his occupation or business. (Art. 2188, Ibid.)

1) Liability for defective products

Any Filipino or foreign manufacturer, producer, and any importer, shall be liable for redress, independently of fault, for damages caused to consumers by defects resulting from design, manufacture, construction, assembly and erection, formulas and handling and making up, presentation or packing of their products, as well as for the insufficient or inadequate information on the use and hazards thereof. (Article 97, R.A. 7394, Consumer Act of the Philippines)

A product is defective when it does not offer the safety rightfully expected of it, taking relevant circumstances into consideration, including but not limited to:

1) Presentation of product;

2) Use and hazards reasonably expected of it;

3) The time it was put into circulation. (Paragraph 2, Article 97, Ibid.)

A product is not considered defective because another better quality product has been placed in the market. (Paragraph 3, Article 97, Ibid.)

The manufacturer, builder, producer or importer shall not be held liable when it evidences:

1) That it did not place the product on the market;

2) That although it did place the product on the market such product has no defect;

4) That the consumer or a third party is solely at fault. (Paragraph 4, Article 97, Ibid.)

2) Liability of Tradesman or Seller

The tradesman/seller is likewise liable, pursuant to the preceding article when:

1) It is not possible to identify the manufacturer, builder, producer or importer.

2) The product is supplied, without clear identification of the manufacturer, producer, builder or importer;

3) He does not adequately preserve perishable goods. The party making payment to the damaged party may exercise the right to recover a part of the whole of the payment made against the other responsible parties, in accordance with their part or responsibility in the cause of the damage effected. (Article 98, Ibid.)

3) Liability for Defective Services

The service supplier is liable for redress, independently of fault, for damages caused to consumers by defects relating to the rendering of the services, as well as for insufficient or inadequate information on the fruition and hazards thereof. (Article 99, Ibid.)

The service is defective when it does not provide the safety the consumer may rightfully expect of it, taking the relevant circumstances into consideration, including but not limited to:

1) The manner in which it is provided;

2) The result of hazards which may reasonably be expected of it;

3) The time when it was provided. (Paragraph 2, Article 99, Ibid.)

A service is not considered defective because of the use or introduction of new techniques. (Paragraph 3, Article 99, Ibid.)

The supplier of the services shall not be held liable when it is proven:

1) That there is no defect in the service rendered;

2) That the consumer or third party is solely at fault. (Paragraph 4, Article 99, Ibid.)

4) Liability for Product and Service Imperfection

The suppliers of durable or nondurable consumer products are jointly liable for imperfections in quality that render the products unfit or inadequate for consumption for which they are designed or decrease their value, and for those resulting from inconsistency with the information provided on the container, packaging, labels or publicity messages/advertisement, with due regard to the variations resulting from their nature, the consumer being able to demand replacement to the imperfect parts. (Article 100, Ibid.)

5) Liability for Product Quantity Imperfection

Suppliers are jointly liable for imperfections in the quantity of the product when, in due regard for variations inherent thereto, their net content is less than that indicated on the container, packaging, labeling or advertisement, the consumer having powers to demand, alternatively, at his own option:

1) The proportionate price

2) The supplementing of weight or measure differential;

3) The replacement of the product by another of the same kind, mark or model, without said imperfections;

4) The immediate reimbursement of the amount paid, with monetary updating without prejudice to losses and damages if any. (Article 101, Ibid.)

The immediate supplier shall be liable if the instrument used for weighing or measuring is not gauged in accordance with official standards. (Paragraph 3, Article 101, Ibid.)

6) Liability for Service Quality Imperfection

The service supplier is liable for any quality imperfections that render the services improper for consumption or decrease their value, and for those resulting from inconsistency with the information contained in the offer or advertisement, the consumer being entitled to demand alternatively at his option:

1) The performance of the services, without any additional cost and when applicable;

2) The immediate reimbursement of the amount paid, with monetary updating without prejudice to losses and damages, if any;

3) A proportionate price reduction. (Article 102, Ibid.)

3. Nuisance

A public nuisance affects a community or neighborhood or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance, danger or damage upon individuals may be unequal. A private nuisance is one that is not included in the foregoing definition. (Article 695, Ibid.)

A private person may file an action on account of a public nuisance, if it is specially injurious to himself. (Article 703, Ibid.)

Every successive owner or possessor of property who fails or refuses to abate a nuisance in that property started by a former owner or possessor is liable therefor in the same manner as the one who created it. (Article 696, Ibid.)

4. Violation of constitutional rights; violation of civil liberties

Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for damages:

1) Freedom of religion;

2) Freedom of speech;

3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;

4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;

5) Freedom of suffrage;

6) The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;

7) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public use;

8)  The right to the equal protection of the laws;

9) The right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures;

10) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;

11) The privacy of communication and correspondence;

12) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes not contrary to law;

13) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances;

14) The right to be free from involuntary servitude in any form;

15) The right of the accused against excessive bail; 

16) The right of the accused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witness in his behalf;

17) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one’s self, or from being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to make such confession, except when the person confessing becomes a State witness;

18) Freedom from excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment, unless the same is imposed or inflicted in accordance with a statute which has not been judicially declared unconstitutional; and

19)  Freedom of access to the courts. (Paragraph 1, Article 32, Ibid.)

NB: For more discussions, see Part I. In General > G. Human Relations

5. Violation of rights committed by public officers

Any person suffering material or moral loss because a public servant or employee refuses or neglects, without just cause, to perform his official duty may file an action for damages and other relief against he latter, without prejudice to any disciplinary administrative action that may be taken. (Article 27, Ibid.)

When a member of a city or municipal police force refuses or fails to render aid or protection to any person in case of danger to life or property, such peace officer shall be primarily liable for damages, and the city or municipality shall be subsidiarily responsible therefor. The civil action herein recognized shall be independent of any criminal proceedings, and a preponderance of evidence shall suffice to support such action. (Article 34, Ibid.)

NB: For more discussions, see Part I. In General > G. Human Relations

6. Provinces, cities and municipalities

Provinces, cities and municipalities shall be liable for damages for the death of, or injuries suffered by, any person by reason of the defective condition of roads, streets, bridges, public buildings, and other public works under their control or supervision. (Art. 2189, Ibid.)

7. Owner of motor vehicle

In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable with his driver, if the former, who was in the vehicle, could have, by the use of the due diligence, prevented the misfortune. (Art. 2184, Ibid.)

Every owner of a motor vehicle shall file with the proper government office a bond executed by a government-controlled corporation or office, to answer for damages to third persons. The amount of the bond and other terms shall be fixed by the competent public official. (Art. 2186, Ibid.)

8. Proprietor of building or structure or thing

The proprietor of a building or structure is responsible for the damages resulting from its total or partial collapse, if it should be due to the lack of necessary repairs. (Art. 2190, Ibid.)

Proprietors shall also be responsible for damages caused:

1) By the explosion of machinery which has not been taken care of with due diligence, and the inflammation of explosive substances which have not been kept in a safe and adequate place;

2) By excessive smoke, which may be harmful to persons or property;

3) By the falling of trees situated at or near highways or lanes, if not caused by force majeure;

4) By emanations from tubes, canals, sewers or deposits of infectious matter, constructed without precautions suitable to the place. (Art. 2191, Ibid.)

If damage referred to in the two preceding articles should be the result of any defect in the construction mentioned in Article 1723, the third person suffering damages may proceed only against the engineer or architect or contractor in accordance with said article, within the period therein fixed. (Art. 2192, Ibid.)

Cross-referenced articles

The engineer or architect who drew up the plans and specifications for a building is liable for damages if within fifteen years from the completion of the structure, the same should collapse by reason of a defect in those plans and specifications, or due to the defects in the ground. The contractor is likewise responsible for the damages if the edifice falls, within the same period, on account of defects in the construction or the use of materials of inferior quality furnished by him, or due to any violation of the terms of the contract. If the engineer or architect supervises the construction, he shall be solidarily liable with the contractor. (Art. 1723, Ibid.)

9. Head of family

The head of a family that lives in a building or a part thereof, is responsible for damages caused by things thrown or falling from the same. (Art. 2193, Ibid.)

10. Violations of data privacy

1) Unauthorized Processing of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information (Section 25, R.A. 10173, Data Privacy Act of 2012)

2) Accessing Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information Due to Negligence (Section 26, Ibid.)

3) Improper Disposal of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information (Section 27, Ibid.)

4) Processing of Personal Information and Sensitive Personal Information for Unauthorized Purposes (Section 28, Ibid.)

5) Unauthorized Access or Intentional Breach (Section 29, Ibid.)

6) Concealment of Security Breaches Involving Sensitive Personal Information (Section 30, Ibid.)

7) Malicious Disclosure (Section 31, Ibid.)

8) Unauthorized Disclosure (Section 32, Ibid.)

9)  Combination or Series of Acts (Section 33, Ibid.)

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