Culion Ice and Fish was the registered owner of the motor schooner, Gwendoline, which it uses for its fishing trade. In order to save costs in running the boat, Culion Ice decided to have the engine changed from gasoline consumer to a crude oil burner. Quest, general manager of Philippine Motors, a domestic corporation engaged in machinery engines and motors, agreed to do the job. Upon inspection, Quest came to conclusion that a carburetor needed to be installed. In the course of the work, it was observed that the carburetor was flooding and that the gasoline and other fuel was trickling freely to the floor but this concern was dismissed by Quest. During the boat’s trial run, the engine stopped and upon being started, a back fire occurred which then instantly spread and finally engulfed Gwendoline. The crew members safely escaped but Gwendoline was destroyed. Culion Ice moved for the recovery of the damages against Philippine Motors. The trial court ruled for Culion Ice. Philippine Motor asserts that the accident was not due to the fault of Quest.
Whether or not Quest was negligent.
When a person holds himself out as being competent to do things requiring professional skill, he will be held liable for negligence if he fails to exhibit the care and skill of one ordinarily skilled in the particular work which he attempts to do. The proof shows that Quest had had ample experience in fixing the engines of automobiles and tractors, but it does not appear that he was experienced in the doing of similar work on boats. For this reason, possibly the dripping of the mixture form the tank on deck and the flooding of the carburetor did not convey to his mind an adequate impression of the danger of fire. But a person skilled in that particular sort of work would, we think have been sufficiently warned from those circumstances (risks) to cause him to take greater and adequate precautions against the danger. In other words Quest did not use the skill that would have been exhibited by one ordinarily expert in repairing gasoline engines on boats. There was here, in our opinion, on the part of Quest, a blameworthy antecedent inadvertence to possible harm, and this constitutes negligence. The burning of the Gwendoline may be said to have resulted from accident, but this accident was in no sense an unavoidable accident. It would not have occurred but for Quest’s carelessness or lack of skill. The test of liability is not whether the injury was accidental in a sense, but whether Quest was free from blame.