California Clothing, Inc. v. Quinones

 California Clothing, Inc. v. Quinones, 

G.R. No. 175822, 

October 23, 2013

DOCTRINE: Any abuse in the exercise of such right and in the performance of duty

causing damage or injury to another is actionable under the Civil Code.


Respondent Shirley G. Quiñones, a Reservation Ticketing Agent of Cebu Pacific

Air in Lapu Lapu City, went inside the Guess USA Boutique at the second floor of

Robinson's Department Store (Robinson's) in Cebu City and purchased a black jeans.

Nevertheless, she presented an official receipt and suggested that they should

talk about the matter in the Cebu Pacific Office located within the mall. While

they were in the office, the Guess employees allegedly humiliated her in front of

the clients of Cebu Pacific, repeatedly demanded payment and even searched the

respondent’s wallet to check how much money she had. Another argument ensued

and after that, respondent went home. The Guess employees submitted two letters

to the Director of Cebu Pacific narrating the incident but the said letters were not


Respondent thus filed the Complaint for Damages before the RTC against petitioners

California Clothing, Inc., Excelsis Villagonzal, Imelda Hawayon and Ybañez, alleging

that due to the incident she suffered physical anxiety, sleepless nights, mental anguish,

fright, serious apprehension, besmirched reputation, moral shock and social humiliation

She demanded the payment of moral, nominal, and exemplary damages, plus attorney's

fees and litigation expenses.

Petitioners stated that they approached the respondent to clarify whether or not

payment was made and that they approached and talked to the respondent in a gentle

and polite manner. They sought payment for moral and exemplary damages, attorney’s.

fees and litigation expenses as counterclaim.

The Regional Trial Court dismissed both the complaint and counterclaim stating

that the petitioners acted in good faith and the respondent was the one who put herself

in that situation by inviting the Guess employees to the Cebu Pacific Office to

discuss about the issue of payment. However, the Court of Appeals reversed and

set aside the Regional Trial Court decision stating that there was preponderance

of evidence showing the petitioners acted in bad faith but, Hawayon and

Villagonzalo were absolved from liability due to good faith. Since petitioners acted in

bad faith, respondent was entitled to damages and attorney’s fees.


Whether or not such right was exercised in good faith or they went overboard

giving respondent a cause of action against them.


No. Respondent’s complaint against petitioners stemmed from the principle of

abuse of rights provided for in the Civil Code on the Chapter of Human Relations. Any

abuse in the exercise of such right and in the performance of duty causing damage or

injury to another is actionable under the Civil Code. The elements of abuse of rights are

as follows: (1) there is a legal right or duty; (2) which is exercised in bad faith; (3) for the

sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another. Under the abuse of rights principle found in

Article 19 of the Civil Code, a person must, in the exercise of legal right or duty, act in

good faith. He would be liable if he instead acted in bad faith, with intent to prejudice


It is evident from the circumstances of the case that petitioners went overboard and

tried to force respondent to pay the amount they were demanding. In the guise of asking

for assistance, petitioners even sent a demand letter to respondent's employer not only

informing it of the incident but obviously imputing bad acts on the part of respondent.

A person should not use his right unjustly or contrary to honesty and good faith,

otherwise, he opens himself to liability. The exercise of a right must be in accordance

with the purpose for which it was established and must not be excessive or unduly

harsh. In this case, petitioners obviously abused their rights.

Complementing the principle of abuse of rights are the provisions of Articles 20 and 21

of the Civil Code which read:

Article 20. Every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes

damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.

Article 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner

that is contrary to morals or good customs, or public policy shall compensate the

latter for the damage.

In view of the foregoing, respondent is entitled to an award of moral damages and

attorney's fees. Moral damages may be awarded whenever the defendant's wrongful act

or omission is the proximate cause of the plaintiff's physical suffering, mental anguish,

fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social

humiliation and similar injury in the cases specified or analogous to those provided in

Article 2219 of the Civil Code. Moral damages are not a bonanza. They are given to

ease the defendant's grief and suffering. They should, thus, reasonably approximate the

extent of hurt caused and the gravity of the wrong done.

No comments:

Post a Comment