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Joint Tortfeasors; The editorial “Birds of Prey” was alleged to

have incited the Filipino people into
wo or more persons whose negligence in a believing that plaintiff was a vile despot and
single accident or event causes damages to a corrupt person, unworthy of the position
another person. In many cases the joint which he held. The said editorial alluded to
tortfeasors are jointly and severally liable him as an eagle that surprises and devours,
for the damages, meaning that any of them a vulture that gorges himself on dead and
can be responsible to pay the entire rotten meat, an owl that affects a petulant
amount, no matter how unequal the omniscience, and a vampire that sucks the
negligence of each party was. blood of the victim until he leaves it
Example: Harry Hotrod is doing 90 miles an After hearing the evidence adduced during
hour along a two-lane road in the early trial, the judge of the CFI rendered
evening, Adele Aimster has stopped her car judgment in favor of petitioner, holding all
to study a map with her car sticking out the defendants (except for Reyes, Aguilar
into the lane by six inches. Hotrod swings and Liquete who were found to be editors
out a couple of feet to miss Aimster's but in a subordinate position and found to
vehicle, never touches the brake, and hits have merely acted under the direction of
Victor Victim, driving from the other their superiors) liable jointly and severally
direction, killing him. While Hotrod is for sustained damages on account of
grossly negligent for the high speed and petitioner’s wounded feelings, mental
failure to slow down, Aimster is also suffering and injuries to his standing and
negligent for her car's slight intrusion into reputation in the sum of P35,000 as well as
the lane. As a joint tortfeasor she may have P25,000 as punitive damages.
to pay all the damages, particularly if This judgment prompted defendants to
Hotrod has no money or insurance. appeal to the SC, claiming that the CFI
However, comparative negligence rules by committed several errors in rendering said
statute or case law in most jurisdictions will judgment among which was that the lower
apportion the liability by percentages of court committed an error in rendering a
negligence among the tortfeasors judgment jointly and severally against the
(wrongdoers) and the injured parties. defendants.

Article 2194, CC: ISSUE

The responsibility of two or more persons 1. WON the defendants, regardless of
who are liable for quasi-delict is solidary. their participation in the commission of the
actual tort, may be held jointly and
WORCESTER vs. OCAMPO, 1912; severally liable as joint tort feasor.
2. WON the above damages for the
FACTS wounded feelings, mental suffering and
Plaintiff Dean Worcester, member of the injuries was correct.
Civil Commission of the Philippines and 3. WON the lower court was correct in
Secretary of the Interior of the Insular awarding punitive damages and damages
Government commenced an action against for the wounded feelings, mental suffering
defendants Ocampo, Kalaw, Santos, Reyes, and injuries.
Aguilar, Liquete, Palma, Arellano, Jose,
Lichauco, Barretto and Cansipit (owners, HELD
directors, writers, editors and 1. YES. Joint tort feasors are all the
administrators of a certain newspaper persons who command, instigate, promote,
known as “El Renacimiento” or “Muling encourage, advise, countenance,
Pagsilang”) for the purpose of recovering cooperate in, aid or abet the commission of
damages resulting from an alleged libelous a tort, or who approve of it after it is done,
publication. if done for their benefit.
Joint tort feasors are jointly and severally altogether jointly liable for the whole
liable for the tort which they commit. They damage. It is no defense for one sued
are each liable as principals, to the same alone, that the others who participated in
extent and in the same manner as if they the wrongful act are not joined with him as
had performed the wrongful act defendants; nor is it any excuse for him
themselves. that his participation in the tort was
insignificant as compared with that of the
***If several persons jointly commit a tort, others.
the plaintiff or person injured, has his
election to sue all or some of the parties Joint tort feasors are not liable pro rata.
jointly, or one of them separately, because The damages can not be apportioned
tort is in its nature a separate act of each among them, except among themselves.
individual. They can no insist upon an apportionment,
for the purpose of each paying an aliquot
Defendants fail to recognize that the basis part. They are jointly and severally liable
of the present action is a tort. They fail to for the full amount.
recognize the universal doctrine that each
joint tort feasor is not only individually A payment in full of the damage done, by
liable for the tort in which he participates, one of the joint tort feasors, of course
but is also jointly liable with his tort satisfies any claim which might exist
feasors. The defendants might have been against the others. There can be but one
sued separately for the commission of the satisfaction. The release of one of the joint
tort. They might have sued jointly and tort feasors by agreement, generally
severally, as they were. It is not necessary operates to discharge all.
that the cooperation should be a direct,
corporeal act. **note: Ponente used Of course the courts during the trial may
examples of torts as held under common find that some of the alleged joint tort
law** (In a case of assault and battery feasors are liable and that others are not
committed by various persons, under the liable. The courts may release some for
common law, all are principals). So also is lack of evidence while condemning others
the person who counsels, aids, or assists in of the alleged tort feasors. And this is true
any way the commission of a wrong. Under even though they are charged jointly and
the common law, he who aided, assisted or severally.
counseled, in any way the commission of a
crime, was as much a principal as he who This same principle is recognized by Act
inflicted or committed the actual tort. 277 of the Philippine Commission. Section
6 provides that:
It may be stated as a general rule, that the Every author, editor or proprietor . . . is
joint tort feasors are all the persons who chargeable with the publication of any
command, instigate, promote, encourage, words in any part . . . or number of each
advise, countenance, cooperate in, aid or newspaper, as fully as if he were the author
abet the commission of a tort, or who of the same.
approve of it after it is done, if done for
their benefit. They are each liable as In our opinion the lower court committed
principals, to the same extent and in the no error in rendering a joint and several
same manner as if they had performed the judgment against the defendants and
wrongful act themselves. allowing an execution against their
individual property. The provisions of the
Joint tort feasors are jointly and severally Civil and Commercial Codes cited by the
liable for the tort which they commit. The defendants and appellants have no
person injured may sue all of them, or any application whatever to the question
number less than all. Each is liable for the presented in the present case.
whole damage caused by all, and
The courts during the trial may find that "The enjoyment of a private
some of the alleged joint tort feasors are reputation is as much a constitutional right
liable and that others are not liable. The as the possession of life, liberty or
courts may release some for lack of property. It is one of those rights necessary
evidence while condemning others of the to human society, that underlie the whole
alleged tort. And this is true even though scheme of human civilization. The respect
they are charged jointly and severally. and esteem of his fellows are among the
However, in this case, the lower court, highest rewards of a wellspent life
committed no error in rendering a joint and vouchsafed to man in this existence.
several judgment against the defendants.
As recognized by Section 6 of Act 277 of The law recognizes the value of such
the Philippine Commission: “Every author, a reputation and constantly strives to give
editor, or proprietor * * * is chargeable redress for its injury. It imposes upon him
with the publication of any words in any who attacks it by slanderous words or
part * * * or number of each newspaper, libelous publications, the liability to make
as fully as if he were the author of the full compensation for the damage to the
same. reputation, for the shame, obloquy and for
the injury to the feelings of its owner, which
Disposition Judgment of the lower court are caused by the publication of the slander
modified. Ocampo, Kalaw, Palma, Arellano, or libel. The law goes further. If the words
Jose, Lichauco, Barretto, and Cansipit held are spoken or the publication is made with
jointly and severally liable for the sum of the intent to injure the victim or with
P25, 000 with interest at 6%. Santos criminal indifference to civil obligation, it
absolved from any liability. imposes such damages as the jury, in view
of all the circumstances of the particular
2. The amount of damages resulting case, adjudge that the wrongdoer ought to
from a libelous publication to a man's good pay as an example to the public and to
name and reputation is difficult of deter others from doing likewise, and for
ascertainment. It is nor difficult to realize punishment for the infliction of the injury.
that the damage thus done is great and
almost immeasurable. The specific amount 3. Yes. After a careful examination of
the damages to be awarded must depend the evidence, and in view of all of the facts
upon the facts in each case and the sound and circumstances and the malice
discretion of the court. No fixed or precise connected with the publication of said
rules can be laid down governing the editorial and the subsequent publications
amount of damages in cases of libel. It is with relation to said editorial, that the lower
difficult to include all of the facts and court, by virtue of the provisions of Act No.
conditions which enter into the measure of 277 of the Philippine Commission, was
such damages. A man's good name and justified in imposing punitive damages
reputation are worth more to him than all upon the defendants.
the wealth which he can accumulate during
a lifetime of industrious labor. To have Section 11 of Act No. 277 allows the court,
them destroyed may be eminently of more in an action for libel, to render a judgment
damage to him personally than the for punitive damages, in an amount which
destruction of his physical wealth. The loss the court may think will be a just
is immeasurable. No amount of money can punishment to the libeler and an example
compensate him for his loss. to others.
Notwithstanding the great loss which he,
from his standpoint, sustains, the courts Exemplary damages in civil actions for libel
must have some tangible basis upon which may always be recovered if the defendant
to estimate such damages. or defendants are actuated by malice. In
the present case there was not the slightest
effort on the part of the defendants to show
the existence of probable cause or
foundation whatever for the facts contained
in said editorial. Malice, hatred, and ill will
against the plaintiff are seen throughout
the record. The said editorial not only
attempted to paint the plaintiff as a villain,
but upon every occasion, the defendants
resorted to ridicule of the severest kind.

Taking into consideration the fact that

some of the defendants have been
prosecuted criminally and have been
sentenced, and considering that fact as a
part of the punitive damages, we have
arrived at the conclusion that the judgment
of the lower court should be modified, and
that a judgment should be rendered
against the defendants, jointly and
severally, and in favor of the plaintiff, the
Honorable Dean C. Worcester, in the sum
of P10,000, as punitive damages, with
interest at 6 per cent from the 23d day of
January, 1909.