Civil Law

AIR FRANCE v. RAFAEL CARRASCOSO G.R. No. L-21438, September 28, 1966 Damages, Bad Faith

FACTS:

Plaintiff, a civil engineer, was a member of a group of 48 Filipino pilgrims that left Manila for Lourdes on March 30, 1958.

The defendant, Air France, through its authorized agent, Philippine Air Lines, Inc., issued to plaintiff a ‘first class’ round trip airplane ticket from Manila to Rome. From Manila to Bangkok, plaintiff travelled in ‘first class’, but at Bangkok, the Manager of the defendant airline forced plaintiff to vacate the ‘first class’ seat that he was occupying because, in the words of the witness Ernesto G. Cuento, there was a ‘white man’, who, the Manager alleged, had a ‘better right’ to the seat. When asked to vacate his ‘first class’ seat, the plaintiff, as was to be expected, refused, and told defendant’s Manager that his seat would be taken over his dead body; a commotion ensued, and, according to said Cuento, ‘many of the Filipino passengers got nervous in the tourist class; when they found out that Mr. Carrascoso was having a hot discussion with the manager, they came all across to Mr. Carrascoso and pacified Mr. Carrascoso to give his seat to the white man’  and plaintiff reluctantly gave his ‘first class’ seat in the plane.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not there was bad faith on the part of the petitioner airline, thus making petitioner liable for damages in favor of respondent.

 

RULING:

That there was a contract to furnish plaintiff a first class passage covering, amongst others, the Bangkok-Teheran leg; That said contract was breached when petitioner failed to furnish first class transportation at Bangkok; and that there was bad faith when petitioner’s employee compelled Carrascoso to leave his first class accommodation berth “after he was already, seated” and to take a seat in the tourist class, by reason of which he suffered inconvenience, embarrassments and humiliations, thereby causing him mental anguish, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and social humiliation, resulting in moral damages.

It is true that there is no specific mention of the term bad faith in the complaint. But, the inference of bad faith is there, it may be drawn from the facts and circumstances set forth therein.  The contract was averred to establish the relation between the parties. But the stress of the action is put on wrongful expulsion.

A contract to transport passengers is quite different in kind and degree from any other contractual relation.  And this, because of the relation which an air-carrier sustains with the public. Its business is mainly with the travelling public. It invites people to avail of the comforts and advantages it offers. The contract of air carriage, therefore, generates a relation attended with a public duty. Neglect or malfeasance of the carrier’s employees, naturally, could give ground for an action for damages.

For the willful malevolent act of petitioner’s manager, petitioner, his employer, must answer. Article 21 of the Civil Code says:

ART. 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.

In parallel circumstances, we applied the foregoing legal precept; and, we held that upon the provisions of Article 2219 (10), Civil Code, moral damages are recoverable.

Petitioner’s contract with Carrascoso is one attended with public duty. The stress of Carrascoso’s action as we have said, is placed upon his wrongful expulsion. This is a violation of public duty by the petitioner air carrier — a case of quasi-delict. Damages are proper.

Passengers do not contract merely for transportation. They have a right to be treated by the carrier’s employees with kindness, respect, courtesy and due consideration. They are entitled to be protected against personal misconduct, injurious language, indignities and abuses from such employees. So it is, that any rule or discourteous conduct on the part of employees towards a passenger gives the latter an action for damages against the carrier.

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