Karlos had two (2) children namely Carlos and Mario who were five (5) and three (3) years old respectively. On February 13, 2009, Carlos and Mario together with their grandparents, Atty. Bonifacio and Dr. Marilyn went to Sofitel to check-in. Dr. Marilyn brought Carlos and Mario to the hotel’s kiddie pool. As Mario was stepping into the pool near the lifeguard station, he suddenly slipped which resulted to his head hitting the rugged edge of the pool. He sustained injuries which caused his head to bleed. Meanwhile, Carlos mounted the kiddie pool slide and thereafter bumped his head. He sustained a contusion, which likewise caused his head to bleed.
Karlos and Dr. Marilyn administered first aid to the children and brought the children to the hotel’s clinic for further treatment.
On February 25, 2009, Karlos sent a Letter to Mr. Bernd Schneider, Sofitel’s Manager, demanding compensation for his children’s injuries. However, his request for compensation was denied.
Four (4) months later, Carlos started d having seizures and was admitted at Medical City. He was subjected to laboratory diagnostics and procedures which caused his father to incur expenses.
Later, Karlos filed a Complaint for Damages against Sofitel before the Metropolitan Trial Court. He maintained that the injuries sustained by his children were the result of Sofitel’ s negligence and therefore prayed that it be ordered to pay him the following: (1) P50,000.00 as actual damages; (2) P100,000.00 as moral damages; (3) P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and (4) P50,000.00 as attorney’s fees.
After trial, the MTC dismissed the Complaint of Karlos on the ground that he was unable to substantiate his allegations. It found that Karlos failed to prove that the injury sustained by his children was the proximate cause of his children’s admission at Medical City.
The RTC and CA affirmed the decision of MTC.
Karlos went to the Supreme Court citing Articles 2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code and argues that respondent should be held liable for the injuries sustained by his children. He maintains that the presence of a slide within the pool’s premises made it an attractive nuisance, which should have prompted respondent to place more safeguards. He stresses that while warning signs were posted regarding the use of the pool, the same were placed in an inconspicuous place which could not have ensured the safety of its guests.
Karlos demands liability on respondent’s part, citing as his basis the doctrines of attractive nuisance and res ipsa loquitur.
Sofitel argues that Karlos failed to prove the causal connection between his children’s injuries and its supposed negligence. It likewise claims that there were lifeguards on duty at the time of the incident.
Issue and Ruling:
Whether or not respondent Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila should be held liable for the injuries sustained by Karlos’ children.
Records show that there were two slides installed with slopes ending at the kiddie pool. Although the swimming pool alone may not be considered as an attractive nuisance, the kiddie pool’s close proximity to the slides formed an unusual condition or artificial feature intended to attract children. In other words, the installation of the slides with slopes ending over the swimming pool’s waters makes it an attractive nuisance.
By this reason, Sofitel was duty bound to undertake protective measures to ensure the children’s safety. It was their responsibility to guarantee that appropriate safeguards were in place within the attractive nuisance in order to protect children against the injury from unknown or unseen dangers.
To begin with, it is undisputed that Karlos’ children sustained their injuries while playing within the pool’s premises-an instrumentality within Sofitel’s exclusive management and control.
Further, by reason of the swimming pool’s nature as an attractive nuisance, Sofitel is duty bound to guarantee that it had installed sufficient precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its guests, particularly the children. The establishment of these safeguards should have prevented the incident. Accordingly, it could be inferred that Karlos’ children would not have sustained their injuries were it not for respondent’s negligence.
No contributory negligence can likewise be imputed against the children. Children, by nature, are enthusiastically inquisitive towards different places and objects, such as pools with slides. By reason of their “childish instincts and impulses” it is expected that they will be drawn to such places to play, unaware of the dangers present within their immediate vicinity.
Based on the foregoing, Sofitel’s failure to prevent the children from using the swimming pool was the proximate cause of the injuries they sustained. To reiterate, by maintaining an attractive nuisance in its premises, it is Sofitel’s responsibility to ensure that necessary precautions are in place to prevent children from being harmed. Sofitel’s failure to install the needed safeguards constitutes negligence for which it should be held liable for damages.
Sofitel was ordered to pay Karlos P50,000 as temperate damages, P100,000 as moral damages, P50,000 as exemplary damages and P50,000 as attorney’s fees.
The Backpacking Lawyer is a practicing lawyer and a nurse by profession in the Philippines. While she enjoys her day job, she loves traveling and sharing her adventures and misadventures with you.