CASE DIGEST: St. Louis Realty v. CA (G.R. No. L-46061)

CASE DIGEST: 218 Phil. 172. SECOND DIVISION [ G.R. No. L-46061, November 14, 1984 ] ST. LOUIS REALTY CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF APPEALS AND CONRADO J. ARAMIL, RESPONDENTS. DECISION. AQUINO, J.

Saint Louis Realty Corporation misrepresented that the house of Doctor Conrado J. Aramil belonged to Arcadio S. Arcadio.

St. Louis Realty caused to be published with the permission of Arcadio S. Arcadio (but without permission of Doctor Aramil) in the issue of the Sunday Times of December 15, 1968 an advertisement with the heading "WHERE THE HEART IS". Below that heading was the photograph of the residence of Doctor Aramil and the Arcadio family and then below the photograph was the following write-up:

"Home is where the heart is. And the hearts of MR. AND MRS. ARCADIO S. ARCADIO and their family have been captured by BROOKSIDE HILLS. They used to rent a small 2-bedroom house in a cramped neighborhood, sadly inadequate and unwholesome for the needs of a large family. They dream(ed) of a more pleasant place free from the din and dust of city life yet near all facilities. Plans took shape when they heard of BROOKSIDE HILLS. With thrift and determination, they bought a lot and built their dream house . . . for P31,000. The Arcadios are now part of the friendly, thriving community of BROOKSIDE HILLS ... a beautiful first-class subdivision planned for wholesome family living."

The same advertisement appeared in the Sunday Times dated January 5, 1969. Doctor Aramil, a neuro-psychiatrist and a member of the faculty of U.E. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital, noticed the mistake. On that same date, he wrote St. Louis Realty a letter of protest. The trial court awarded Aramil P8,000 as actual damages, P20,000 as moral damages and P2,000 as attorney’s fees. St. Louis Realty appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Appellate Court affirmed that judgment.

ISSUE: Is Doctor Aramil entitled to damages?

HELD: The damages fixed by the judge are sanctioned by Articles 2200, 2208 and 2219 of the Civil Code. Article 2219 allows moral damages for acts and actions mentioned in Article 26. As lengthily explained in the lower court's decision, the acts and omissions of the firm fall under Article 26.

St. Louis Realty's employee was grossly negligent in mixing up the Aramil and Arcadio residences in a widely-circulated publication like the Sunday Times. To suit its purpose, it never made any written apology and explanation of the mixup. It just contented itself with a cavalier "rectification."

Persons, who know the residence of Doctor Aramil, were confused by the distorted, lingering impression that he was renting his residence from Arcadio or that Arcadio had leased it from him. Either way, his private life was mistakenly and unnecessarily exposed. He suffered diminution of income and mental anguish.

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