Case Brief: Concepcion v CA

G.R. No. 120706 January 31, 2000

RODRIGO CONCEPCION, petitioner,

vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SPS. NESTOR NICOLAS and ALLEM NICOLAS, respondents.

Facts:
Nestor Nicolas and Allem Nicolas, the respondents, resided in an apartment leased to them by the owner thereof, Florence “Bing”Concepcion”. The Nicolas spouses were engaged in business of supplying office equipment appliances and other fixtures, and Florence Concepcion joined this venture by contributing capital to the business and sharing with the earned profit thereafter.

Sometime in the second week of July 1985, petitioner Rodrigo Concepcion, brother of the deceased husband of Florence, angrily accosted Nestor at his apartment and accused him of conducting an adulterous relationship with Florence. To clarify matters, Nestor went with Rodrigo to see some members of Conception family to clarify everything, but the family members including Florence denied knowledge of such affair. Thereafter, however, Rodrigo called Florence over the phone reiterating his accusation and gave some death threats to her.

As a result of the incident, Nestor Nicolas felt extreme embarrassment and shame. Florence Concepcion also ceased to do business with him by not contributing capital anymore so much so that the business venture of the Nicolas spouses declined. Additionally, Allem Nicolas started to doubt Nestor’s fidelity. As such, petitioned Rodrigo to express a public apology and pay the damages. Rodrigo ignored the demand, which caused the Nicolas spouses to file a civil suit against him for damages.

Issues:
1. Whether there is basis to review the facts which are of weight and influence by which were overlooked and misapplied by the respondent appellate court.
2. Whether there is basis in law for the award of damages to private respondents, the Nicolas spouses.

Held:
1. Yes.
Originally, petitioner alleged that certain facts and circumstances of the case were manifestly overlooked by respondent court on the grounds that the trial judge who penned the decision was in no position to observe first-hand the demeanor of the witnesses of respondent spouses as he was not the original judge who heard the case.
The Supreme Court contends that petitioner did not give any sufficient reason to engender doubt as to the factual findings of the court. The fact that the case was handled by different judges brooks no consideration at all. The Supreme Court accords the highest respect to the evaluation made by the lower court of the testimonies of the witnesses presented before it, and that it can be fairly assumed under the performance of duties of public officers that the transcripts of stenographic notes were thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated by the judge himself.

2. Yes.
Petitioner originally claimed that the lower courts were without legal basis to justify its verdict as it does not fall under Arts. 26 and 2219 of Civil Code since it does not constitute libel, slander, or any other form of defamation, nor involve prying into privacy of another’s residence or meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relation of another.
The Supreme Court rejected the petitioner’s contention that no legal provision supports such award for damages. It is understandable that the incident charged of petitioner was no less than an invasion of right of the respondent, Nestor, as a person. Under this article, the rights of persons are protected, and damages are provided for violations thereof. The violations mentioned in the codal provisions are not exclusive but are merely examples and do not preclude other similar or analogous acts. Due to the incident, respondent Nestor Nicolas suffered mental anguish, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings and social humiliation as a proximate result of petitioner’s abusive, scandalous and insulting language. As such, the Supreme Court held that the incident clearly falls under the aforementioned articles and the person who violated those rights should be liable of the damages.

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing premises, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Br. 167, holding Rodrigo Concepcion liable to the spouses Nestor Nicolas and Allem Nicolas for F50,000.00 as moral damages, P25,000.00 for exemplary damages, P10,000.00 for attorney’s fees, plus costs of suit, is AFFIRMED.

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