CA exonerates fastfood joint in 2000 incident-A A +A
Sunday, October 13, 2013
THE Court of Appeals (CA) threw out the P9-million damage suit that parents filed against the franchisee of an American fastfood company for allegedly dropping their then eight-month-old son during a birthday party in 2000.
The CA reversed the trial court’s decision that found Cebu Golden Food Industries Inc., the operator McDonald’s Ayala Center Cebu, liable for negligence.
“In the instant case, the evidence and the law indubitably lead us to no other conclusion than that (mother) Mary Ann Latonio’s negligence is the proximate and sole cause of the fall and injury of baby Ed Christian,” read the CA decision penned by Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles.
Ed Christian suffered a fractured skull after he fell while his photograph was being taken with the McDonald’s mascot.
Ed Dante Latonio and his wife Mary Ann sued Cebu Golden Food and McGeorge Food Industries Inc., the franchise holder.
Also implicated was McDonald’s service crew Tyke Philip Lomibao, who was designated as the mascot.
The Latonios said that their son fell when the fastfood’s mascot failed to hold him during a picture-taking on Sept. 17, 2000.
The Latonios had sought P9 million as damages and P200,000 as litigation expenses.
McGeorge Food Industries, in its motion, asked the court to dismiss the case because they were not a “party-in-interest” in the lawsuit.
Lomibao, the McDonald’s service crew, had also denied he asked the children to gather for a photo session.
Lower court ruling
The mother, he said, never requested him to hold the child. He said he didn’t expect the mother to leave the child alone with him.
Regional Trial Court Judge Manuel Patalinghug, in his decision dated March 3, 2009, found Lomibao and Cebu Golden Food liable for “acts of negligence.”
Patalinghug ordered the defendants to pay the couple P950,000 as damages and P300,000 as attorney’s fees.
The judge also dismissed the case against McGeorge for lack of evidence.
The CA, in its decision, said Mary Ann “acted negligently and carelessly.”
“Indeed, it is irresponsible for a mother to entrust the safety, even momentarily, of her eight-month-old child to a mascot...,” the CA said.
While it commiserates with the mental and emotional stress the couple had endured because of the accident, the CA said it is bound to decide cases based on evidence.
“To our mind, what is more accord with human experience and dictates of reason is that a diligent mother would naturally ensure first the safety of her child before releasing her hold on him,” the CA said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 13, 2013.