CASE DIGEST: Vallacar Transit vs. Catubig

G.R. No. 175512: May 30, 2011



On January 27, 1994, respondents husband (Catubig), was on his way home from riding in tandem on a motorcycle with his employee, Emperado. Catubig was the one driving the motorcycle.While approaching a curve, Catubig tried to overtake a slow moving ten-wheeler cargo truck by crossing-over to the opposite lane, which was then being traversed by theCeres Bulilitbus driven by Cabanilla, headed for the opposite direction.The two vehicles collided causing the death of Catubig and Emperado.

Cabanilla was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in double homicide before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC).After preliminary investigation, the MCTC dismissed the charges after it found that Cabanilla was not criminally liable because there was no negligence on his part.

Respondent filed before the RTC a Complaint for Damages against petitioner. Respondent alleged that petitioner is civilly liable because the latters employee driver, Cabanilla, was reckless and negligent in driving the bus.

Petitioner contended that the proximate cause of the collision was the sole negligence of Catubig when he imprudently overtook another vehicle at a curve and traversed the opposite lane of the road.As a special and affirmative defense, petitioner asked for the dismissal of respondents complaint for not being verified and/or for failure to state a cause of action. Trial then ensued.

OnJanuary 26, 2000, the RTC promulgated its Decision favoring petitioner.Based on the sketch prepared by PO2 Elnas, which showed that "the point of impact x x x occurred beyond the center lane near a curve within the lane of the Ceres bus[;]" plus, the testimonies of PO2 Elnas and Cadimas that the motorcycle recklessly tried to overtake a truck near a curve and encroached the opposite lane of the road, the RTC ruled that the proximate cause of the collision of the bus and motorcycle was the negligence of the driver of the motorcycle, Catubig.

Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal which found both Catubig and Cabanilla negligent in driving their respective vehicles. Thus, the Court of Appeals decreed that petitioner is equally liable for the accident which led to the deaths of Catubig, Jr. andEmperado and hereby award to the heirs of Catubig, Jr. the amount [of]P250,000.00 as full compensation for his death.

The Court of Appeals denied the MR of petitioner. Hence, the instant Petition for Review.

ISSUE: (1) Whether respondents complaint for damages should be dismissed for the latters failure to verify the same,(2) Whether petitioner is vicariously liable for the death of Catubig.

HELD:The petition is meritorious.


The 1997 Rules of Court, clearly provides that a pleading lacking proper verification is to be treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect.However, it also just as clearly states that "[e]xcept when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit."No such law or rule specifically requires that respondents complaint for damages should have been verified.


Imputing fault or negligence on the part of the employer for the fault or negligence of its employee does not apply to petitioner since the fault or negligence of Cabanilla has never been established by respondent.To the contrary, the totality of the evidence shows that the proximate cause of the collision is attributable to the negligence of Catubig.The RTC concluded that Catubigs overtaking of a slow-moving truck, while approaching a curve, was the immediate and proximate cause of the collision which led to his own death.

Thepresumption that employers are negligent under Article 2180 of the Civil Code flows from the negligence of their employees. Having adjudged that the immediate and proximate cause of the collision resulting in Catubigs death was his own negligence, and there was no fault or negligence on Cabanillas part, then such presumption of fault or negligence on the part of petitioner, asCabanillas employer, does not even arise.