Case Brief: Solidum vs. People

G.R. No. 192123 March 10, 2014

DR. FERNANDO P. SOLIDUM, Petitioner,

vs.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

Facts:

Gerald Albert Gercayo (Gerald) was born on June 2, 1992 with an imperforate anus. Two days after his birth, Gerald underwent colostomy, a surgical procedure to bring one end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall, enabling him to excrete through a colostomy bag attached to the side of his body.

On May 17, 1995, Gerald, then three years old, was admitted at the Ospital ng Maynila for a pull-through operation. Dr. Leandro Resurreccion headed the surgical team, and was assisted by Dr. Joselito Luceño, Dr. Donatella Valeña and Dr. Joseph Tibio. The anesthesiologists included Dr. Marichu Abella, Dr. Arnel Razon and petitioner Dr. Fernando Solidum (Dr. Solidum). During the operation, Gerald experienced bradycardia, and went into a coma. His coma lasted for two weeks, but he regained consciousness only after a month. He could no longer see, hear or move.

Agitated by her son’s helpless and unexpected condition, Ma. Luz Gercayo (Luz) lodged a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries with the City Prosecutor’s Office of Manila against the attending physicians.

On July 19, 2004, the RTC and CA rendered its judgment finding Dr. Solidum guilty beyond reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries and ordering her to indemnify, jointly and severally with the Ospital ng Maynila, private complainant Luz Gercayo, for damages.

Issue:

Whether Ospital ng Maynila shall be held jointly and severally liable with Dr. Solidum with regard to indemnification for damages

Ruling:

No. The judgment was flawed in logic and in law.

In criminal prosecutions, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability that is deemed instituted with the criminal action refers only to that arising from the offense charged. It is puzzling, therefore, how the RTC and the CA could have adjudged Ospital ng Maynila jointly and severally liable with Dr. Solidum for the damages despite the obvious fact that Ospital ng Maynila, being an artificial entity, had not been charged along with Dr. Solidum. The judgment rendered against Ospital ng Maynila void was the product of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

The Ospital ng Maynila was not at all a party in the proceedings. Hence, its fundamental right to be heard was not respected from the outset. The R TC and the CA should have been alert to this fundamental defect. Verily, no person can be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an action or proceeding in which he was not made a party. Such a rule would enforce the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.

Moreover, Ospital ng Maynila could be held civilly liable only when subsidiary liability would be properly enforceable pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. But the subsidiary liability seems far-fetched here. The conditions for subsidiary liability to attach to Ospital ng Maynila should first be complied with. Firstly, pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, Ospital ng Maynila must be shown to be a corporation “engaged in any kind of industry.” The term industry means any department or branch of art, occupation or business, especially one that employs labor and capital, and is engaged in industry. However, Ospital ng Maynila, being a public hospital, was not engaged in industry conducted for profit but purely in charitable and humanitarian work. Secondly, assuming that Ospital ng Maynila was engaged in industry for profit, Dr. Solidum must be shown to be an employee of Ospital ng Maynila acting in the discharge of his duties during the operation on Gerald. Yet, he definitely was not such employee but a consultant of the hospital. And, thirdly, assuming that civil liability was adjudged against Dr. Solidum as an employee (which did not happen here), the execution against him was unsatisfied due to him being insolvent.

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