Culion Ice, Fish and Electric Co. Inc. vs. Phil. Motors Corp.

CULION ICE, FISH AND ELECTRIC CO., INC., plaintiff-appellee,

Culion was the registered owner of the motor schooner, Gwendoline, which it used for its fishing trade. To save costs, Culion decided to have the engine changed from gasoline to a crude oil.

Quest, the manager of Philippine Motors agreed to do the job. In the course of the work, it was observed that the carburetor was flooding and that the gasoline and other fuel was trickling freely to the floor but this concern was dismissed by Quest.

The engine stopped during a trial run and upon being started, a back fire occurred which then the fire instantly spread and engulfed Gwendoline. The crew members safely escaped but Gwendoline was destroyed. Culion moved for the recovery of the damages against Philippine Motors.

Whether Quest is liable for negligence.

YES. When a person holds himself out as being competent to do things requiring professional skill, he will be held liable for negligence if he fails to exhibit the care and skill of one ordinarily skilled in the particular work which he attempts to do.

The proof shows that Quest had ample experience in fixing the engines of automobiles and tractors, but not on boats. But nonetheless, a person skilled in that particular sort of work would have been sufficiently warned from those possible risks to cause him to take greater and adequate precautions against the danger. In other words Quest did not use the skill that would have been exhibited by one ordinarily expert in repairing gasoline engines on boats. There was here, in our opinion, on the part of Quest, a blameworthy antecedent inadvertence to possible harm, and this constitutes negligence. The burning of the Gwendoline may be said to have resulted from accident, but this accident was in no sense an unavoidable accident. It would not have occurred but for Quest’s carelessness or lack of skill. The test of liability is not whether the injury was accidental in a sense, but whether Quest was free from blame.

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