Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sun v CA G.R. No. 92383 July 17, 1992

J. Cruz

Lim accidentally killed himself with his gun after removing the magazine, showing off, pointing the gun at his secretary, and pointing the gun at his temple. The widow, the beneficiary, sued the petitioner and won 200,000 as indemnity with additional amounts for other damages and attorney’s fees. This was sustained in the Court of Appeals then sent to the Supreme court by the insurance company.

1. Was Lim’s widow eligible to receive the benefits?
2. Were the other damages valid?

1. Yes  2. No
Ratio: 1. There was an accident.
De la Cruz v. Capital Insurance says that "there is no accident when a deliberate act is performed unless some additional, unexpected, independent and unforeseen happening occurs which produces or brings about their injury or death." This was true when he fired the gun.
Under the insurance contract, the company wasn’t liable for bodily injury caused by attempted suicide or by one needlessly exposing himself to danger except to save another’s life.
Lim wasn’t thought to needlessly expose himself to danger due to the witness testimony that he took steps to ensure that the gun wasn’t loaded. He even assured his secretary that the gun was loaded.
There is nothing in the policy that relieves the insurer of the responsibility to pay the indemnity agreed upon if the insured is shown to have contributed to his own accident.
2. “In order that a person may be made liable to the payment of moral damages, the law requires that his act be wrongful. The adverse result of an action does not per se make the act wrongful and subject the act or to the payment of moral damages. The law could not have meant to impose a penalty on the right to litigate; such right is so precious that moral damages may not be charged on those who may exercise it erroneously. For these the law taxes costs.”
If a party wins, he cannot, as a rule, recover attorney's fees and litigation expenses, since it is not the fact of winning alone that entitles him to recover such damages of the exceptional circumstances enumerated in Art. 2208. Otherwise, every time a defendant wins, automatically the plaintiff must pay attorney's fees thereby putting a premium on the right to litigate which should not be so. For those expenses, the law deems the award of costs as sufficient.”

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