Shipping firm asks court to junk P1M suit

TRANS-ASIA Shipping Lines has asked the court to junk the P1.18-million damage suit filed against it over its alleged failure to safeguard one of its passengers who reportedly fell into the sea last Feb. 15.

Through lawyer Dexter Vinan, the shipping firm asked Regional Trial Court Judge Ricky Jones Macabaya to dismiss the complaint filed by Florentina Flores and her son Luvis.

The petitioners have no legal capacity to sue and the lawsuit failed to state a cause of action, Vinan said.

“At all relevant times, defendant (Trans-Asia) in the conduct of its business and operation and deployment of its ships in the coast wise trade has been exercising extraordinary diligence,” read the firm’s reply to the suit.

The petitioners filed the complaint for breach of contract of carriage and damages against Trans-Asia before the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City.

Mv Trans-Asia 3, they said, breached its “contractual obligation” when it failed to observe Articles 1733 and 1755 of the Civil Code to bring its missing passenger, Ronie Pajares, to his destination “safe and sound.”

In her complaint, Florentina, 74, said she and her grandson, Parajes, 26, boarded the vessel from Cebu City to Cagayan de Oro City last Feb.15.

Florentina was assigned to upper deck 3, while Parajes was assigned to deck 2, just below his grandmother.

Florentina said Parajes had complained of a stomach ache even before they boarded the vessel.

Missing

Florentina said she fell asleep and woke up an hour later. Parajes was not on his deck.

Florentina said she looked for Parajes inside the ship but he could not find him.

The ship management did not report the incident to the Philippine Coast Guard for a rescue operation, the petitioners said.

When they docked at the Cagayan de Oro City port on Feb.16, Florentina waited at the exit door of the vessel and checked each disembarking passenger, still she could not find her grandson.

Luvis reported the incident to the maritime police in Barangay Puntod, Cagayan de Oro on Feb. 16. Trans-Asia, on the other hand, reported the incident to the authorities only on Feb.17.

The petitioners asked the court to order the shipping firm to pay them P500,000 as moral damages; P500,000 as exemplary damages; P85,714.37 as actual damages; and P100, 000 as attorney and litigation expenses.

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