GR No. 116100
February 9, 1996
Mabasa owns a parcel of land with a 2 door apartment. The property is surrounded by other immovables. When Mabasa bought the land, there were tenants who were occupying the property, and there were supposed two different passageways. First passageway with an approximate 1 meter wide and 20 meters distance to P. Burgos Street. The second about 3 meters wide and 26 meters away.
When Mabasa went to see the premises after one of the tenants vacated, he saw that there had been built an adobe fence in the apartment in the first passageway that made it narrower. The Santoses first constructed the said adobe fence . Defendant Morato constructed her own adobe fence and even extended said fence that entirely closed the said passage way. The remaining tenants vacated thereafter.
The case was brought to the trial court and ordered the Custodios and the Santoses to give Mabasa a permanet ingress and eggress to the public street and asked Mabasa to pay Custodios and Santoses for damages.
1) Whether or not Mabasa has the right to demand for a right of way
2) Whether or not the CA erred in awarding damages.
1) Yes, Mabasa has the right to demand for a right of way. A person has a right to the natural use and enjoyment of his own property, according to his pleasure, for all the purposes to which such property is usually applied.
2) Yes. The mere fact that the plaintiff suffered losses does not give rise to a right to recover damages. To warrant the recovery of damages, there must be both a right of action for a legal wrong inflicted by the defendant, and damage resulting to the plaintiff therefrom. Wrong without damage, or damage without wrong, does not constitute a cause of action, since damages are merely part of the remedy allowed for the injury caused by a breach or wrong.
An injury is an illegal invasion of a legal right, any loss, hurt and harm resulting from the injury is damage. Damages are the recompense or compensation awarded for the damage suffered.
In this case, the petitioners merely constructed an adobe wall which was in keeping with and is a valid exercise of their rights as the owner of their respective properties—i.e. there was no abuse of right as provided for in Article 21 of the New Civil Code and where the following requisites must concur: (1) defendant acted in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy; (2) The acts should be willful and; (3) There was damage or injury to the plaintiff. None of these requisites was present in this case.
As a general rule, there is no cause of action for acts done by one person upon his own property in a lawful and proper manner, although such acts incidentally cause damage or an unavoidable loss to another, as such damage or loss is damnum absque injuria. When the owner of property makes use thereof in the general and ordinary manner in which the property is used, such as fencing or enclosing the same as in this case, nobody can complain of having been injured, because the inconvenience arising from said use can be considered as a mere consequence of community life.
In other words, in order that the law will give redress for an act causing damage, that act must be not only hurtful, but wrongful. There must be damnum et injuria.
damnum absque injuria (Latin for “loss or damage without injury”) is a phrase expressing the principle of tort law in which some person (natural or legal) causes damage or loss to another, but does not injure them. (source)