Greenstar Express, Inc. v. Universal Robina Corporation

 Greenstar Express, Inc. v. Universal Robina Corporation, 

G.R. No. 205090, 

October 17, 2016


1.) Under Article 2180, "employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their

employees and household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even

though the former is not engaged in any business or industry. "In other words, for the

employer to be liable for the damages caused by his employee, the latter must have

caused the damage in the course of doing his assigned tasks or in the performance of his


2.) The doctrine of last clear chance provides that where both parties are negligent

but the negligent act of one is appreciably later in point of time than that of the other, or

where it is impossible to determine whose fault or negligence brought about the

occurrence of the incident, the one who had the last clear opportunity to avoid the

impending harm but failed to do so, is chargeable with the consequences arising

therefrom. Stated differently, the rule is that the antecedent negligence of a person does

not preclude recovery of damages caused by the supervening negligence of the latter,

who had the last fair chance to prevent the impending harm by the exercise of due



Petitioner Greenstar Express, Inc. (Greenstar) is a domestic corporation engaged

in the business of public transportation, while petitioner Fruto L. Sayson, Jr. (Sayson) is

one of its bus drivers. Respondents Universal Robina Corporation (URC) and Nissin

Universal Robina Corporation (NURC) are domestic corporations engaged in the food

business. NURC is a subsidiary of URC. URC is the registered owner of a Mitsubishi L-

300 van.

At about 6:50 a.m. on February 25, 2003, which was then a declared national

holiday, petitioner's bus, which was then being driven toward the direction of Manila by

Sayson, collided head-on with the URC van, which was then being driven Quezon

province-bound by NURC's Operations Manager, Renante Bicomong (Bicomong). The

incident occurred along Km. 76, Maharlika Highway, Brgy. San Agustin, Alaminos,

Laguna. Bicomong died on the spot, while the colliding vehicles sustained considerable


The trial court dismissed the complaint for lack of cause of action as Bicomong

was not performing his assigned tasks at the time of the incident and the court of appeals

affirmed this decision. Hence, this present petition.


WON respondents are liable to petitioners for the damages they sustained

considering that the accident was attributed to the negligence of Renante Bicomong.


No. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition.

In the present case, it has been established that on the day of the collision — or

on February 25, 2003 — URC was the registered owner of the URC van, although it

appears that it was designated for use by NURC, as it was officially assigned to the latter's

Logistics Manager, Florante Soro-Soro (Soro-Soro); that Bicomong was the Operations

Manager of NURC and assigned to the First Cavite Industrial Estate; that there was no

work as the day was declared a national holiday; that Bicomong was on his way home to

his family in Quezon province; that the URC van was not assigned to Bicomong as well,

but solely for Soro-Soro's official use; that the company service vehicle officially assigned

to Bicomong was a Toyota Corolla, which he left at the Cavite plant and instead, he used

the URC van; and that other than the Cavite plant, there is no other NURC plant in the

provinces of Quezon, Laguna or Bicol.

Respondents succeeded in overcoming the presumption of negligence, having

shown that when the collision took place, Bicomong was not in the performance of his

work; that he was in possession of a service vehicle that did not belong to his employer

NURC, but to URC, and which vehicle was not officially assigned to him, but to another

employee; that his use of the URC van was unauthorized — even if he had used the same

vehicle in furtherance of a personal undertaking in the past, 31 this does not amount to

implied permission; that the accident occurred on a holiday and while Bicomong was on

his way home to his family in Quezon province; and that Bicomong had no official

business whatsoever in his hometown in Quezon, or in Laguna where the collision

occurred, his area of operations being limited to the Cavite area.

On the other hand, the evidence suggests that the collision could have been

avoided if Sayson exercised care and prudence, given the circumstances and information

that he had immediately prior to the accident. Despite having seen Bicomong drive the

URC van in a precarious manner while the same was still a good 250 meters away from

his bus, Sayson did not take the necessary precautions, as by reducing speed and

adopting a defensive stance to avert any untoward incident that may occur from

Bicomong's manner of driving. This is precisely his testimony during trial. When the van

began to swerve toward his bus, he did not reduce speed nor swerve his bus to avoid

collision. Instead, he maintained his current speed and course, and for this reason, the

inevitable took place. An experienced driver who is presented with the same facts would

have adopted an attitude consistent with a desire to preserve life and property; for

common carriers, the diligence demanded is of the highest degree.

However, Sayson took no defensive maneuver whatsoever in spite of the fact that

he saw Bicomong drive his van in a precarious manner, as far as 250 meters away — or

at a point in time and space where Sayson had all the opportunity to prepare and avert a

possible collision. The collision was certainly foreseen and avoidable, but Sayson took no

measures to avoid it. Rather than exhibit concern for the welfare of his passengers and

the driver of the oncoming vehicle, who might have fallen asleep or suddenly fallen ill at

the wheel, Sayson coldly and uncaringly stood his ground, closed his eyes, and left

everything to fate, without due regard for the consequences. Such a suicidal mindset

cannot be tolerated, for the grave danger it poses to the public and passengers availing

of petitioners' services. To add insult to injury, Sayson hastily fled the scene of the

collision instead of rendering assistance to the victims — thus exhibiting a selfish, coldblooded

attitude and utter lack of concern motivated by the self-centered desire to escape

liability, inconvenience, and possible detention by the authorities, rather than secure the

well-being of the victims of his own negligent act.

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