Maria Teresa Cuadra and Maria Teresa Monfort were classmates in Grade Six at the Mabini Elementary School in Bacolod City. On July 9, 1962 their teacher assigned them, together with three other classmates, to weed the grass in the school premises. While thus engaged Maria Teresa Monfort found a plastic headband, an ornamental object commonly worn by young girls over their hair. Jokingly she said aloud that she had found an earthworm and, evidently to frighten the Cuadra girl, tossed the object at her. At that precise moment the latter turned around to face her friend, and the object hit her right eye. Smarting from the pain, she rubbed the injured part and treated it with some powder. The next day, July 10, the eye became swollen and it was then that the girl related the incident to her parents, who thereupon took her to a doctor for treatment. She underwent surgical operation twice, on July 20 and August 4, 1962 respectively, and stayed in the hospital for a total of twenty-three days, for all of which the parents spent the sum of P1,703.75. Despite the medical efforts, however, Maria Teresa Cuadra completely lost the sight of her right eye. Maria Teresa Cuadra’s parents sued Alfonso Monfort (Maria Teresa Monfort’s father) based on Article 2180 of the Civil Code.
Whether or not Alfonso Monfort should be held liable under Article 2180.
Ruling of the court:
The defendant is not liable and therefore cannot be sued under Article 2180. This article provides that the father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible for the damages caused by the minor children who live in their company. The basis of this vicarious, although primary, liability is, as in Article 2176, fault or negligence, which is presumed from that which accompanied the causative act or omission. The presumption is merely based on the ﬁrst impression(prima facie) and may therefore be rebutted. This is the clear and logical inference that may be drawn from the last paragraph of Article 2180, which states “that the responsibility treated of in this Article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.”
In this case, there is nothing from which it may be inferred that the defendant, Alfonso Monfort, could have prevented the damage by the observance of due care, or that he was in any way remiss in the exercise of his parental authority in failing to foresee such damage, or the act which caused it. On the contrary, his child was at school, where it was his duty to send her and where she was, as he had the right to expect her to be, under the care and supervision of the teacher. And as far as the act which caused the injury was concerned, it was an innocent prank not unusual among children at play and which no parent, however careful, would have any special reason to anticipate much less guard against. Nor did it reveal any mischievous propensity, or indeed any trait in the child’s character which would reﬂect unfavorably on her upbringing and for which the blame could be attributed to her parents.