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Africa vs.

Caltex, Boquiren and the CA

G.R. No. L-12986, March 31, 1966

FACTS:

A fire broke out at the Caltex service station in Manila. It started while gasoline wasbeing hosed from a
tank truck into the underground storage, right at the opening of thereceiving truck where the nozzle of
the hose was inserted The fire then spread to andburned several neighboring houses, including the
personal properties and effects insidethem. The owners of the houses, among them petitioners here,
sued Caltex (owner of the station) and Boquiren (agent in charge of operation).Trial court and CA found
that petitioners failed to prove negligence and that respondentshad exercised due care in the premises
and with respect to the supervision of theiremployees. Both courts refused to apply the doctrine of res
ipsa loquitur on the groundsthat “as to its applicability xxx in the Philippines, there seems to be nothing
definite,” and that while the rules do not prohibit its adoption in appropriate cases, “in the case atbar,
however, we find no practical use for suchdocrtrine.”

ISSUE:

W/N without proof as to the cause and origin of the fire, the doctrine of

res ipsa loquitur

should apply as to presume negligence on the part of the appellees.

RULE:

Res ipsa Loquitur

is a rule to the effect that “where the thing which caused the injurycomplained of is shown to be under
the management of defendant or his servants andthe accident is such as in the ordinary course of things
does not happen if those whohave its management or control use proper care, it affords reasonable
evidence, inabsence of explanation of defendant, that the incident happened because of want
of care.The aforesaid principle enunciated in

Espiritu vs. Philippine Power and Development Co.

is applicable in this case. The gasoline station, with all its appliances, equipment andemployees, was
under the control of appellees. A fire occurred therein and spread to andburned the neighboring
houses. The person who knew or could have known how the firestarted were the appellees and their
employees, but they gave no explanation thereof whatsoever. It is fair and reasonable inference that the
incident happened because of want of care. The report by the police officer regarding the fire, as well as
the statementof the driver of the gasoline tank wagon who was transferring the contents thereof
intothe underground storage when the fire broke out, strengthen the presumption of negligence. Verily,
(1) the station is in a very busy district and pedestrians often passthrough or mill around the premises;
(2) the area is used as a car barn for around 10taxicabs owned by Boquiren; (3) a store where people
hang out and possibly smokecigarettes is located one meter from the hole of the underground tank; and
(4) theconcrete walls adjoining the neighborhood are only 2 . meters high at most andcannot prevent
the flames from leaping over it in case of fire.

Decision REVERSED. Caltex liable