PAN AM breach of the contract was the substantial cause in bringing about the harm or injury to the plaintiff.
If defendant was not sure that it could transport plaintiff and his luggage to Los Angeles, it should not have accepted plaintiff who was a waitlisted passenger. It is not a valid excuse on its part to claim that plaintiff checked in at the last minute and that there was insufficient time to load his bag in the plane.
Edmundo P. Ongsiako, "with one piece of checked-in luggage, was a paying passenger on the ... PAN AM Flight 842 that left Manila for Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
with Los Angeles, California, as his ultimate destination
that at Honolulu, Ongsiako "discovered that his luggage was not carried on board ...; (i)t was left at ... PAN AM's airport office in Manila where it was found a week later;"
a PAN AM employee in Honolulu, instead of helping him search for his bag, arrogantly threatened to "bump him off in Honolulu should he persist in looking for his bag
that "(o)ffers to forward the luggage to .. (Ongsiako) in Los Angeles or San Francisco were refused, f s because, by the time it was found, ... (Ongsiako) was about to leave Los Angeles, and secondly, ... (Ongsiako) was not sure where he would be staying in San Francisco
that "(v)erbal complaint was made first at PAN AM's Honolulu airport office, then at Los Angeles, but written complaint was made on July 20, 1978
PAN AM (Pan American World Airways, Inc.) was sentenced by the Court of First Instance of Rizal 6 on complaint of Ongsiako, to pay to the latter: 1. P9,629.50 representing cost of plaintiffs plane ticket as actual damages; 2. The equivalent in pesos of $400 at the current exchange rate as temperate or moderate damages; 3. P350,000.00 as moral damages; 4. P100,000.00 as exemplary damages; 5. P26,000.00 as attorney's fees; 6. Costs.
On appeal taken by PAN AM, 7 the Trial Court's judgment was affirmed by the Intermediate Appellate Court, with the sole modification that the award of actual damages was reduced to P4,814.75 and that of exemplary damages, eliminated.
Article 2220 of the Civil Code says that moral damages may be awarded in "breaches of contract where the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith." So, proof of infringement of an agreement by a party, standing alone, will not justify an award of moral damages.
There must, in addition, as the law points out, be competent evidence of fraud of bad faith by that party.
If the plaintiff, for instance, fails to take the witness stand and testify as to his social humiliation, wounded feelings, anxiety, etc., moral damages cannot be recovered.
The rule applies, of course, to common carriers.
Accepting last minute passengers and their baggage with no definite assurance that the carrier can comply with its obligation due to lack of time amounts to "negligence so gross and reckless as to amount to malice or bad faith
PAN AM employee in Honolulu, instead of helping him (Ongsiako) search for his bag, arrogantly threatened to "bump him off" in Honolulu should he persist in looking for his bag. This happened in the presence of several people, thereby subjecting plaintiff to indignity, embarrassment and humiliation, which aggravated his health-his blood pressure, in this case.
This must have been a very distressing and painful experience to plaintiff which justifies a finding of bad faith and an award for moral damages in his favor. Considering the financial standing of plaintiff who heads a corporation
and the anguish, anxiety, wounded feelings, shame and humiliation which he suffered as heretofore discussed, the Court assesses moral damages in his favor in the amount of P350,000.00.
In any event, even accepting PAN AM's version of the occurrence at face value, it is clear that none of the PAN AM employees exerted the least effort to assist Ongsiako in his predicament, despite his appeal for help; that not one of them even deigned to look at Ongsiako's baggage tag, or listen to his problem, or give assurances that something would be done about his difficulties, or otherwise show any sign of sympathy or commiseration; that instead, they looked at their watches-an impolite and dismaying gesture of impatience, to be sure, considering the circumstances-and told him he could not be helped because there were other people waiting for their turn-to be served, of course, like Ongsiako, as they had a right to expect as paying passengers-and that it was best if he just went to his plane so as not to miss his flight.
Surely, these acts of callous indifference to the plight of a person in a foreign land could not be less distressing, depressing or disheartening to the latter, or judged less harshly, simply because not attended by any shouted remarks.