City of Manila v. Teotico (G.R. No. L-23052)


At about 8:00 in the evening, private respondent Genaro Teotico was at the corner of the Old Luneta and P. Burgos Avenue, Manila, within a loading and unloading zone, waiting for a jeepney when one came along to stop. As he stepped down from the curb to board the jeepney and took a few steps, he fell inside an uncovered and unlighted manhole. The fall caused Teotico’s head to hit the rim and break his eyeglasses and the broken pieces thereof to pierce his left eyelid. Respondent was then brought to PGH to be treated of his injuries. Respondent suffered contusions in various parts of his body and allergic eruptions caused by the anti-tetanus injections administered to him required further medical treatment and payment of these charges. Thus, respondent filed a complaint for damages against the City of Manila, its mayor, city engineer, city health officer, city treasurer and chief of police. The trial court dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the City of Manila was sentenced to pay the damages.


Whether or not the City of Manila is liable for damages.

Ruling: YES.

Article 2189 of the Civil Code constitutes a particular prescription making “provinces, cities and municipalities . . . liable for damages for the death of, or injury suffered by any person by reason” — specifically — “of the defective condition of roads, streets, bridges, public buildings, and other-public works under their control or supervision.” In other words, Article 2189 governs liability due to “defective streets,” in particular. Since the present action is based upon the alleged defective condition of a road, said Article 2189 is decisive thereon.

In its answer to the amended complaint, the City, in turn, alleged that “the streets aforementioned were and have been constantly kept in good condition and regularly inspected and the storm drains and manholes thereof covered by the defendant City and the officers concerned” who “have been ever vigilant and zealous in the performance of their respective functions and duties as imposed upon them by law.Thus, the City had, in effect, admitted that P. Burgos Avenue was and is under its control and supervision. At any rate, under Article 2189 of the Civil Code, it is not necessary for the liability therein established to attach that the defective roads or streets belong to the province, city or municipality from which responsibility is exacted. What said article requires is that the province, city or municipality have either “control or supervision” over said street or road.


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