G.R. No. 1472. September 30, 1905

Please log in to request a case brief.

5 Phil. 78

[ G.R. No. 1472. September 30, 1905 ]




On November 19, 1902, Messrs. Smith and Reyes, as proprietors of the
Philippine Gas Light Company, brought this action against the defendant
sisters, Jacinta and Ignacia Lopez de Pineda, to recover from them the
sum of 3,270 pesos, Mexican currency, with interest due thereon and
costs of proceedings, for work performed in connection with the
installation of a water system, urinals, closets, shower baths, and
drain pipes in the house at No. 142 Calle Dulumbayan, district of Santa
Cruz, the same being the property of the defendants. The plaintiffs
alleged that they had complied with the agreement made with the father
of the defendants, the administrator of the property, and that the
labor performed and the material used were reasonably worth the sum of
4,020 pesos, Mexican currency, of which sum they acknowledged having
received 750 pesos, and prayed that judgment be entered against the
defendants and in favor of the plaintiffs for the sum of 3,270 pesos,
together with accrued interest and costs of proceedings, defendants
having refused to pay the same as agreed.

Attorney Gregorio Pineda appeared in behalf of the defendants,
denied all the facts set out in the complaint, and alleged that it did
not appear from the pleadings that plaintiffs had ever entered into a
mercantile partnership under the aforesaid name and style, or that any
such partnership legally existed; that Nicasio Lopez was not the
administrator nor was he empowered by the defendants to make any
contract for repairs and improvements to and in the said house; that
there was no allegation as to the extent and importance of the work
performed on the premises nor as to the quality or quantity of the
materials used; that the work was not reasonably worth 4,020 pesos; and
that, assuming that plaintiffs had performed work in the said house
pursuant to an agreement with Nicasio Lopez, without defendants’
authority, the defendants set up a counterclaim for 600 pesos, Mexican
currency, for damages caused to the house as a result of said work.
Defendants finally prayed that the complaint be dismissed and that
plaintiffs be ordered to pay the costs of proceedings and the amount of
the counterclaim.

The court, after considering the allegations made and the evidence
introduced by both parties, on April 3, 1903, entered judgment against
the defendants and in favor of the plaintifts for the sum of 2,717.40
pesos, local currency, and accrued interest thereon at the legal rate
of 6 per cent per annum, from November 19, 1902, and costs of
proceedings. To this judgment defendants duly excepted, having first
moved for a new trial.

This is an action upon a contract to recover for labor performed on
the premises, No. 142 Calle Dulumbayan, district of Santa Cruz, in
connection with the installation of a water system, urinals,
water-closets, shower baths, and drain pipes. The contract in question
was entered into between one of the plaintiffs and Nicasio Lopez, the
father of the defendants, who was at the time in charge of the house
and cared for the same for the defendant sisters. There was no
stipulation in the contract as to the specific cost of the work to be

There is no doubt that the work was actually performed as alleged.
It thus appears from the answer of the defendants to plaintiffs’
complaint, and it was also admitted by the witness Nicasio Enrico
Lopez, who, among other things, testified under oath, that if Mr. Smith
had presented to him a bill for 1,500 or, at most, 2,000 pesos for the
work performed he would have paid him with pleasure. In view of the
foregoing the court made the statement during the course of the trial
that the only question was the reasonable value of the work.

One of the errors assigned by counsel for defendants and appellants
in this court is that the court below erred in recognizing plaintiffs’
capacity to sue as a partnership, there being no evidence to show that
they were legally organized as such.

There was no such error. Messrs. Smith and Reyes executed the
contract in their own individual capacity and not in the name of any
partnership. They acted as co-owners of the Philippine Gas Light
Company. In their complaint they sought to enforce a legitimate right
which they had as such coowners. (Arts. 392 et seq., and 1669 of the
Civil Code.)

The plaintiffs were not seeking to enforce a right pertaining to a
legal entity. They were not obliged to register in the Mercantile
Registry. They were merely merchants having a common interest in the
business. They were under no obligation to register.(Arts. 16 and 17 of
the Code of Commerce.)

As to the second, third, and fourth errors, it must be borne in mind
that Nicasio Lopez, the father of the defendants, was the administrator
of the property; that having been notified of an order of the Board of
Health he took the necessary steps to comply with the same, calling
upon one of the plaintiffs to do the work required, and that he made
certain payments on account. He, the father of the defendants, did all
this as a voluntary agent of the actual owners of the house, and,
although there is no proof of an express power of attorney, it can not
be denied that there was an implied power, because the defendants did
not object to the work being done on the house, which was really
benefited and improved by such work. For this reason it is evidently
just that the owners be held liable for the cost of the work and the
value of the material used therein. They can not now allege that there
was no contract and that they did not agree to pay for such labor and
material. There was a quasi contract which created certain reciprocal
obligations between them and the plaintiffs. (Arts. 1887,1888,1892, and
1893 of the Civil Code.)

At the request of Nicasio Lopez there were installed in the house of
defendants a water-supply system, baths, water-closets, and drain pipes
pursuant to orders from the Board of Health, for the purpose of
bettering the sanitary condition of the premises, and the defendants
never objected to the performance of the necessary work. It therefore
must be presumed that they, the defendants, approved of the work done
upon the house and ratified the action of their father in the premises
as though he acted under an express power from them. (Art. 1892 of the
Civil Code.)

But, even assuming that the defendants did not expressly ratify or
approve the action of their father, Nicasio Lopez, the fact remains
that the house was improved by said work, and, for this reason, the
owners of the premises are liable for the obligations incurred by their
agent, Lopez, for their benefit and advantage.

Furthermore, if the work had not been done as required by the Board
of Health, it would have been to the dis-advantage of the defendants
because the work would have been eventually undertaken by the
authorities and at the expense of the said defendants. (Art.1893 of the
Civil Code.)

As to the second error relating to the price of the work fixed by
the court in its judgment, it should be noticed that when no price has
been expressly stipulated in a contract of this nature, it is
understood that the contracting parties have impliedly agreed to pay
and receive the usual and reasonable value of the services rendered.
Otherwise it must be presumed that the parties intended that the price
be fixed by experts in case they fail to agree as to the same.

The rule as laid down by the authorities is to the effect that in a
contract for services it shall be presumed that a certain compensation
was intended to be fixed, although there may not be any express
stipulation in regard thereto; taking into consideration the law in
force and the customs of the country where the contract was executed,
except where such compensation is to be fixed by a third person or by a
competent court upon the testimony of experts.

A contract for services or work to be performed exists not only
where a certain and definite compensation has been expressly agreed
upon, but also where the same can be ascertained from the customs and
usages of the place in which such services were rendered. (Judgment of
the supreme court of Spain of October 18,1899.)

The foregoing disposes of the second, third, and fourth assignments of error.

It appears from the bill of exceptions that the defendants were the
owners of one-half of the house in question, the other half belonging
to the heirs of the deceased, Vicente Faustino Cruz. The action,
however, was brought solely against these defendants. Neither the
executor of the deceased co-owner of the house nor his surviving heirs
having an interest in the property were joined as parties defendant in
this case.

Section 114 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides, among other
things, that every action must be prosecuted in the name of the real
party in interest and that an executor or administrator of a deceased
person may sue or be sued without joining with him the person for whose
benefit the action is prosecuted or defended.

This action was prosecuted without the intervention of the executor
or legal representatives of the deceased Vicente P. Cruz, one of the
co-owners of the house in question. Therefore this decision can not,
under section 277 of the Code of Civil Procedure, affect the rights of
the successors or legal heirs of the said deceased.

For this reason, which is a perfectly legal one, a judgment against
the defendants in this case enforcing the obligation incurred by them
under article 1893 of the Civil Code would be of no effect as to the
successors or heirs of the deceased Vicente F. Cruz, but a separate
action must be commenced against such successors or legal heirs. It
would not be just or proper that the defendants should pay the whole
amount of the claim but only one-half thereof, since they only owned
half of the house wherein the work was done; the recovery of the cost
of such, work being the subject-matter of this action.

As to the fifth and sixth assignments of error, it must be said that
the bill tendered by the plaintiffs for material furnished and labor
performed on the premises in question, was made up from the books kept
by the plaintiffs, and was admitted in evidence by the court for what
it might be worth, as shown by the bill of exceptions, and that
notwithstanding defendants’ objection, the fact is that they introduced
no evidence tending to prove (1) that less material was used in the
work than that stated in the bill; (2) that the work done was worth
less than the amount charged in the bill. Therefore, after a
consideration of the evidence of record in this case, we find that
3,467.40 pesos and not 4,020 pesos, Mexican currency, as alleged in the
complaint was the reasonable value of the work performed, plaintiffs
having agreed that the 552.60 pesos claimed by them as interest be
deducted from the latter amount. They have expressly waived any right
to the recovery of such amount.

From the sum of 3,467 pesos and 40 cents there should be deducted
750 pesos paid to the plaintiffs on account of their claim, thus
leaving a balance of 2,717 pesos and 40 cents. One-half of this latter
amount, to wit, 1,358 pesos and 70 cents, Mexican currency, plus
interest due thereon at the rate of 6 per cent per annum from the 19th
of November, 1902, is the total sum which the plaintiffs are entitled
to recover from the defendants in this case.

For the foregoing reasons it is hereby adjudged and decreed that the
defendants, Jacinta Lopez and Ignacia Lopez de Pineda, pay to the
plaintiffs in this case the sum of 1,358 pesos and 70 cents, Mexican
currency, or its equivalent in Philippine currency, said amount
representing one-half of the total sum awarded by the judgment of the
court below. The defendants shall further pay to the plaintiffs
whatever interest may have accrued from the 19th of November, 1902, at
the rate of 6 per cent per annum on the said sum. Defendants shall also
pay the costs of proceedings in both instances. The judgment appealed
from, thus modified, is in all other respects hereby affirmed, without
prejudice to the right of the plaintiffs to institute a separate action
against the heirs and successors of the deceased Vicente F. Cruz for
the recovery of the other half of the value of the work performed in
and upon the premises No. 142 Calle Dulumbayan. After the expiration of
twenty days let judgment be entered in accordance here with and the
case be remanded to the Court of First Instance for action in
accordance with the law. So ordered.

Arellano C. J., Mapa, Johnson, Carson, and Willard, JJ., concur.

Date created: April 25, 2014


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Apply Filters