BJDC CONSTRUCTION, REPRESENTED BY ITS MANAGER/PROPRIETOR JANET S. DELA CRUZ, Petitioner,
NENA E. LANUZO, CLAUDETTE E. LANUZO, JANET E. LANUZO, JOAN BERNABE E. LANUZO, AND RYAN JOSE E. LANUZO, Respondents.
G.R. No. 161151, March 24, 2014
PONENTE: Bersamin, J.
This case involves a claim for damages arising from the death of a motorcycle rider in a nighttime accident due to the supposed negligence of a construction company then undertaking re–blocking work on a national highway. The plaintiffs insisted that the accident happened because the construction company did not provide adequate lighting on the site, but the latter countered that the fatal accident was caused by the negligence of the motorcycle rider himself.
Nena alleged that she was the surviving spouse of the late Balbino who figured in the accident that transpired at the site of the re–blocking work at about 6:30 p.m. on October 30, 1997; that Balbino’s Honda motorcycle sideswiped the road barricade placed by the company in the right lane portion of the road, causing him to lose control of his motorcycle and to crash on the newly cemented road, resulting in his instant death; and that the company’s failure to place illuminated warning signs on the site of the project, especially during night time, was the proximate cause of the death of Balbino.
In its answer, BJDC denied Nena’s allegations of negligence, insisting that it had installed warning signs and lights along the highway and on the barricades of the project; that at the time of the incident, the lights were working and switched on; that its project was duly inspected by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Office of the Mayor of Pili, and the Pili Municipal Police Station; and that it was found to have satisfactorily taken measures to ensure the safety of motorists.
Whether or not heirs of Balbino were able to establish by preponderance of evidence the negligence of BJDC.
NO. The party alleging the negligence of the other as the cause of injury has the burden to establish the allegation with competent evidence. If the action based on negligence is civil in nature, the proof required is preponderance of evidence.
In civil cases, the burden of proof is on the party who would be defeated if no evidence is given on either side. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff if the defendant denies the factual allegations of the complaint in the manner required by the Rules of Court, but it may rest on the defendant if he admits expressly or impliedly the essential allegations but raises affirmative defense or defenses, which if proved, will exculpate him from liability.
The Court affirmed the findings of the RTC, and rules that the Lanuzo heirs, the parties carrying the burden of proof, did not establish by preponderance of evidence that the negligence on the part of the company was the proximate cause of the fatal accident of Balbino.
During the trial, the Lanuzo heirs attempted to prove inadequacy of illumination instead of the total omission of illumination. In contrast, the company credibly refuted the allegation of inadequate illumination. The Court observes, too, that SPO1 Corporal, a veteran police officer detailed for more than 17 years at the Pili Police Station, enjoyed the presumption of regularity in the performance of his official duties. In his report, it was mentioned that “upon arrival at the scene of the incident it was noted that road sign/barricade installed on the road has a light.”