Ferrer v. Ericta

Ferrer v. Ericta
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  1 | Torts and Damages   Ferrer v. Ericta (1978) Ponente: Antonio, J. Petitioner  : MR. AND MRS. ROMEO FERRER AND ANNETTE FERRER  Respondent: HON. VICENTE G. ERICTA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF RIZAL, QUEZON CITY, BRANCH XVIII, MR. AND MRS. FRANCIS PFLEIDER AND DENNIS PFLEIDER, RESPONDENTS   Under what topic: Prescription   Synopsis: There was a vehicular accident which resulted to the plaintiff’s action for damages against the  parents of the minor tortfeasor. The suit was filed more than four years after the incident. Defendants filed their answer, but the defense of prescription was invoked only when the case was revived. The court eventually upheld the defense. Doctrine:   Issue: WON the defense of prescription had been waived by the defendants’ failure t o allege the same in their answer  .   While it is true that, as a rule, prescription can only be considered if the same is invoked in the answer of the defense,   the rule cannot be invoked when the evidence shows that the action has already been barred by the statute of limitations.  Facts:    Mr. And Mrs. Franis Pfleider were the owners or operators of a Ford pick-up car. At about 5pm of December 31, 1970, their son, defendant Dennis, who was only 16 at the time, without proper official authority, drove the ford, without due regard to traffic rules and regulations, and without taking the necessary precaution to prevent injury to persons or damage to property. The pick up car was overturned, causing physical injuries to plaintiff Annette Ferrer, who was then a passenger, which injuries paralyzed her and require medical treatment an confinement at different hospitals for more than two year.    As a result of the physical injuries sustained by P, she suffered unimaginable physical pain, mental anguish, and her parents also suffered mental anguish, moral shock, and spent a considerable sum of money for her treatment.    Complaint was only filed on January 5, 1975    Pretrial (May 12, 1975), only Ferrer and counsel were present. As such, the Pfleiders were declared in default and the court rendered judgment against them.    Upon filing a motion for reconsideration, respondent Judge, without setting aside the order of default, issued an order absolving defendants from any liability on the grounds that: o   Complaint states no cause of action because it does not allege that Dennis Pfleider was living with his parents at the time of the vehicular accident. Considering that under 2180, the father, and in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, is only responsible for the damages caused by their minor children who live in their company  2 | Torts and Damages   o   That the defense of prescription is meritorious, since the complaint was filed more than 4 years after the date of the accident and the action to recover damages based on quasi-delict prescribes in 4 years o   Instant petition for mandamus  Issue/s: WON the defense of prescription had been deemed waived by PR ’ s failure to allege the same in their answer. Held-Ratio: No. Defense of prescription (DP) not deemed waived.      Where the answer does not take issue with the complaint as to dates involved in the defendant ’ s claim of prescription, his failure to specifically plead prescription in the answer does not constitute a waiver of the defense of prescription. o   Defense of prescription, even if not raised in a motion to dismiss or in the answer, is not deemed waived unless such defense raises issues of fact appearing upon the preceding pleading.    It is true that the DP can only be considered if it is invoked as such in the answer of the defendant and that in this particular instance, no such defense was invoked because the defendants had been declared in default. But such rule does not obtain when the evidence shows that the cause of action upon which plaintiff ’ s complaint us based is already barred by the statute of limitations.    In the present case, there is no issue of fact involved in connection with the question of prescription. Action for damages arising from physical injuries because of a tort must be filed within four years. The four-year period begins from the day the quasi-delict is committed or the date of the accident. Dispositive:   WHEREFORE , the instant petition for mandamus is hereby DISMISSED, without pronouncement as to costs.
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