Del Rosario: Liability of private school bus

THE parents of a high school boy contracted Spouses Pereña, who were engaged in the business of operating a private school bus, to transport their son from their house to school and back. However, the van collided with a commuter train wherein the boy was killed instantaneously. The parents then filed a case against the driver, Spouses Pereña, the train operator and the train company.

The Supreme Court considered Pereña to be operating a common carrier although they catered to specific individuals only and not the general public because they were “(a) engaged in transporting passengers generally as a business, not just as a casual occupation; (b) undertaking to carry passengers over established roads by the method by which the business was conducted; and (c) transporting students for a fee.”

As a common carrier, the Supreme Court further ruled that they were bound to exercise extraordinary diligence in transporting their passengers and in order to be relieved of this liability, they have to prove that they exercised the required diligence. However, the Supreme Court found that Spouses Pereña failed to overturn the presumption of negligence. The driver was found to be negligent and Spouses Pereña cannot evade liability with their defense that they observed the diligence of a good father of the family in the selection and supervision of their driver. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed that Spouses Pereña were liable to pay damages together with other defendants. (Spouses Perena vs. Spuses Zarate, et al., G.R. 157917 [2012])
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