Category Archives: LABOR CODE

CASE DIGEST: CONSUNJI VS. COURT OF APPEALS

GR No. 137873 April 20, 2001

Consunji vs. Court of Appeals

FACTS:

At around 1:30 p.m., November 2, 1990, Jose Juego, a construction worker of D. M. Consunji, Inc., fell 14 floors from the Renaissance Tower, Pasig City to his death. On May 9, 1991, Jose Juego’s widow, Maria, filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig a complaint for damages against the deceased’s employer, D.M. Consunji, Inc. The employer raised, among other defenses, the widow’s prior availment of the benefits from the State Insurance Fund. After trial, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of the widow Maria Juego.

On appeal by D. M. Consunji, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the decision of the RTC in toto.

D. M. Consunji then sought the reversal of the CA decision.

ISSUES:

  1. Whether or not the petitioner is held liable under the grounds of negligence.
  2. Whether or not the injured employee or his heirs in case of death have a right of selection or choice of action between availing themselves of the worker’s right under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and suing in the regular courts under the Civil Code for higher damages (actual, moral and exemplary) from the employers by virtue of the negligence or fault of the employers or whether they may avail themselves cumulatively of both actions,

RULING:

  1. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (the thing or transaction speaks for itself) is peculiar to the law of negligence which recognizes that prima facie negligence may be established without direct proof and furnishes a substitute for specific proof of negligence. It has the following requisites: (1) the accident was of a kind which does not ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent; (2) the instrumentality or agency which caused the injury was under the exclusive control of the person charged with negligence; and (3)the injury suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the person injured. All the requisites for the application of the rule of res ipsa loquitur are present in the case at bar, thus a reasonable presumption or inference of appellant’s negligence arises. Petitioner does not cite any other evidence to rebut the inference or presumption of negligence arising from the application of res ipsa loquitur, or to establish any defense relating to the incident.
  2. The claims for damages sustained by workers in the course of their employment could be filed only under the Workmen´s Compensation Law, to the exclusion of all further claims under other laws. In the course of availing the remedies provided under the Workmen’s Compensation law, the claimants are deemed to have waived their known right of the remedies provided by other laws. The Court of Appeals, however, held that the case at bar came under exception because private respondent was unaware of petitioner´s negligence when she filed her claim for death benefits from the State Insurance Fund. Had the claimant been aware, she would’ve opted to avail of a better remedy than that of which she already had.