Hotel told to pay P52M for the guest's murder-A A +A
Monday, September 17, 2012
MANILA -- High-end Makati Shangri-la Hotel has been ordered by the Supreme Court to pay some P52 million to the relatives of a Norwegian guest whom strangers killed inside his room in November 1999.
Saying the hotel was negligent in providing enough security to its guests, the decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin upheld the October 2005 judgment rendered by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) holding Makati Shangri-La Hotel and Resort Inc. (Shangri-La) liable for damages for the murder of Christian Fredrik Harper.
The justices, however, followed the computation set by the Court of Appeals, which told Shangri-La to pay Harper's heirs P52,078.702.50 as actual and compensatory damages, P25,000 temperate damages and P250,000 attorney's fees.
As a business imbued with public interest, hotels should adhere to the Articles 2000 to 2002 of the Civil Code, which tackle the hotelkeepers' degree of care and responsibility as to the personal effects of their guests, said the Court.
"We hold that there is much greater reason to apply the same if not greater care and responsibility when the lives and personal safety of their guests are involved. Otherwise, the hotelkeepers would simply stand idly by as strangers have unrestricted access to all the hotel rooms on the pretense of being visitors of the guests, without being held liable should anything untoward befall the unwary guest," the decision read.
After reviewing the case, the justices agreed with the CA that Shangri-la failed to deploy sufficient security personnel or roving guards at the time the incident happened on November 6, 1999.
Colonel Rodrigo de Guzman, the hotel's security manager, had testified that before Harper's death, they only assign just one security or roving guard for every three or four floors of the building.
He admitted that such ration had not been enough given the L-shaped configuration of the hotel that rendered the hallways not visible from one end or the other. De Guzman had recommended to the hotel management to post a guard for each floor, but it was disapproved by Shangri-La because of financial constraints.
Harper, who came to Manila on a business trip for engineering firm ALSTOM Power Norway AS, was found wrapped with packaging and electrical tapes inside his room at the 14th floor. The still unidentified assailants took his laptop, undetermined amount of cash and credit cards.
Harper's heirs filed a suit in the RTC to recover various damages from Shangri-La. The RTC ruled in favor of the heirs and found the hotel remiss in its duties and thus liable for Harper's death. On appeal, the CA affirmed the judgment of the RTC, with the modification.
Concurring with Bersamin are Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Martin Villarama and Bienvenido Reyes.(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)