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KRAMER v CA

Petitioner: ERNESTO KRAMER, JR. and MARIA KRAMER


Respondent: HON. COURT OF APPEALS and TRANS-ASIA SHIPPING
LINES, INC.,
Ponente: Gancayco, J..
DOCTRINE:
Under Article 1146 of the Civil Code, an action based upon a quasidelict must be instituted within four (4) years. The prescriptive period
begins from the day the quasi-delict is committed.
FACTS:
1. On April 8, 1976, the F/B Marjolea, a fishing boat owned by
petitioners Ernesto Kramer, Jr. and Marta Kramer collided with an
inter-island vessel, the M/V Asia Philippines owned by the private
respondent Trans-Asia Shipping Lines, Inc. As a consequence of
the collision, the F/B Marjolea sank, taking with it its fish catch.
2. Both parties filed their protest with the Board of Marine Inquiry for
the determination of the proximate cause of the collission. The
Board decided that the collision occurred due to the negligence of
the employees of the private respondent who were on board the
M/V Asia Philippines.
3. The findings made by the Board served as the basis of a
subsequent Decision of the Commandant of the Philippine Coast
Guard dated April 29, 1982 wherein the second mate of the M/V
Asia Philippines was suspended from pursuing his profession as a
marine officer.
4. On May 30, 1985, the petitioners instituted a Complaint for
damages against the private respondent before the RTC. The
private respondent filed a Motion seeking the dismissal of the
Complaint on the ground of prescription.
5. Respondents argue that the prescription period for actions based
on quasi-delict is 4 years from when the cause of action accrued as
stated in Art. 1146 of the Civil Code. Therefore, the period should
be counted from April 8, 1976 when the collision occurred.
6. Petitioners argue that the period should be counted from 1982, or
when the date when the Decision ascertaining the negligence of
the crew of the M/V Asia Philippines had become final. They
claimed that maritime collisions have peculiarities and
characteristics which only persons with special skill, training and
experience like the members of the Board of Marine Inquiry can
properly analyze and resolve.

7. RTC denied the MTD based on the arguments of the petitioners. It


stated that prescriptive period under the law should begin to run
only from April 29, 1982, the date when the negligence of the crew
of M/V Asia Philippines had been finally ascertained.
8. The CA reversed the RTC decision. The CA stated that the
decisions of an admin are not binding on the courts. If an accrual of
a cause of action has to be dependent on an action of an admin
body, then it might get delayed.
ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the action has prescribed.
RULING + RATIO:
1. YES. Under Article 1146 of the Civil Code, an action based upon a
quasi-delict must be instituted within four (4) years. The prescriptive
period begins from the day the quasi-delict is committed.
a. The right of action accrues when there exists a cause of action,
which consists of 3 elements, namely:
i. A right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and
under whatever law it arises or is created
ii. An obligation on the part of defendant to respect such
right
iii. An act or omission on the part of such defendant
violative of the right of the plaintiff
b. The occurrence of the last element is the time when the cause
of action arise.
c. It is therefore clear that in this action for damages arising from
the collision of two (2) vessels the four (4) year prescriptive
period must be counted from the day of the collision. The
aggrieved party need not wait for a determination by an
administrative body like a Board of Marine Inquiry that the
collision was caused by the fault or negligence of the other
party before he can file an action for damages.
d. The period should be counted from April 8, 1976.
DISPOSITION
WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed. No costs.
SO ORDERED.