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  • 8/3/2019 Consolidated Full Text Cases

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    G.R. No. 171092 March 15, 2010EDNA DIAGO LHUILLIER, Petitioner,vs.BRITISH AIRWAYS, Respondent.

    D E C I S I O N

    DEL CASTILLO,J.:

    Jurisdictio est potestas de publico introducta cumnecessitate juris dicendi. Jurisdiction is a powerintroduced for the public good, on account of thenecessity of dispensing justice.1

    Factual Antecedents

    On April 28, 2005, petitioner Edna Diago Lhuillierfiled a Complaint2 for damages againstrespondent British Airways before the Regional

    Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City. She alleged thaton February 28, 2005, she took respondentsflight 548 from London, United Kingdom to Rome,Italy. Once on board, she allegedly requested

    Julian Halliday (Halliday), one of the respondentsflight attendants, to assist her in placing herhand-carried luggage in the overhead bin.However, Halliday allegedly refused to help andassist her, and even sarcastically remarked that"If I were to help all 300 passengers in this flight,I would have a broken back!"

    Petitioner further alleged that when the planewas about to land in Rome, Italy, another flightattendant, Nickolas Kerrigan (Kerrigan), singledher out from among all the passengers in thebusiness class section to lecture on plane safety.Allegedly, Kerrigan made her appear to the otherpassengers to be ignorant, uneducated, stupid,and in need of lecturing on the safety rules andregulations of the plane. Affronted, petitionerassured Kerrigan that she knew the planessafety regulations being a frequent traveler.

    Thereupon, Kerrigan allegedly thrust his face amere few centimeters away from that of thepetitioner and menacingly told her that "We dontlike your attitude."

    Upon arrival in Rome, petitioner complained torespondents ground manager and demanded anapology. However, the latter declared that theflight stewards were "only doing their job."

    Thus, petitioner filed the complaint for damages,praying that respondent be ordered to pay P5million as moral damages, P2 million as nominaldamages, P1 million as exemplary damages,P300,000.00 as attorneys fees, P200,000.00 aslitigation expenses, and cost of the suit.

    On May 16, 2005, summons, together with a copy

    of the complaint, was served on the respondentthrough Violeta Echevarria, General Manager ofEuro-Philippine Airline Services, Inc.3

    On May 30, 2005, respondent, by way of specialappearance through counsel, filed a Motion toDismiss4 on grounds of lack of jurisdiction overthe case and over the person of the respondent.Respondent alleged that only the courts ofLondon, United Kingdom or Rome, Italy, have

    jurisdiction over the complaint for damages

    pursuant to the Warsaw Convention,5 Article28(1) of which provides:

    An action for damages must be brought at theoption of the plaintiff, either before the court ofdomicile of the carrier or his princ

    ipal place of business, or where he has a place ofbusiness through which the contract has beenmade, or before the court of the place ofdestination.

    Thus, since a) respondent is domiciled in London;b) respondents principal place of business is inLondon; c) petitioner bought her ticket in Italy(through Jeepney Travel S.A.S, in Rome);6 and d)Rome, Italy is petitioners place of destination,

    then it follows that the complaint should only befiled in the proper courts of London, UnitedKingdom or Rome, Italy.

    Likewise, it was alleged that the case must bedismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the personof the respondent because the summons waserroneously served on Euro-Philippine AirlineServices, Inc. which is not its resident agent inthe Philippines.

    On June 3, 2005, the trial court issued an Orderrequiring herein petitioner to file herComment/Opposition on the Motion to Dismisswithin 10 days from notice thereof, and forrespondent to file a Reply thereon.7 Instead offiling a Comment/Opposition, petitioner filed on

    June 27, 2005, an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion toAdmit Formal Amendment to the Complaint andIssuance of Alias Summons.8 Petitioner allegedthat upon verification with the Securities andExchange Commission, she found out that theresident agent of respondent in the Philippines isAlonzo Q. Ancheta. Subsequently, on September9, 2005, petitioner filed a Motion to ResolvePending Incident and Opposition to Motion toDismiss.9

    Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

    On October 14, 2005, the RTC of Makati City,Branch 132, issued an Order10 grantingrespondents Motion to Dismiss. It ruled that:

    The Court sympathizes with the alleged ill-treatment suffered by the plaintiff. However, ourCourts have to apply the principles ofinternational law, and are bound by treatystipulations entered into by the Philippines whichform part of the law of the land. One of this is theWarsaw Convention. Being a signatory thereto,

    the Philippines adheres to its stipulations and isbound by its provisions including the place whereactions involving damages to plaintiff is to beinstituted, as provided for under Article 28(1)thereof. The Court finds no justifiable reason todeviate from the indicated limitations as it willonly run counter to the provisions of the WarsawConvention. Said adherence is in consonancewith the comity of nations and deviation from itcan only be effected through proper denunciationas enunciated in the Santos case (ibid). Since thePhilippines is not the place of domicile of the

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    defendant nor is it the principal place of business,our courts are thus divested of jurisdiction overcases for damages. Neither was plaintiffs ticketissued in this country nor was her destinationManila but Rome in Italy. It bears stressinghowever, that referral to the court of proper

    jurisdiction does not constitute constructivedenial of plaintiffs right to have access to ourcourts since the Warsaw Convention itselfprovided for jurisdiction over cases arising frominternational transportation. Said treatystipulations must be complied with in good faithfollowing the time honored principle of pacta suntservanda.

    The resolution of the propriety of service ofsummons is rendered moot by the Courts wantof jurisdiction over the instant case.

    WHEREFORE, premises considered, the presentMotion to Dismiss is hereby GRANTED and thiscase is hereby ordered DISMISSED.

    Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration butthe motion was denied in an Order11 dated

    January 4, 2006.

    Petitioner now comes directly before us on aPetition for Review on Certiorari on purequestions of law, raising the following issues:

    Issues

    I. WHETHER X X X PHILIPPINE COURTs HAVE JURISDICTION OVER A TORTIOUS CONDUCTCOMMITTED AGAINST A FILIPINO CITIZEN ANDRESIDENT BY AIRLINE PERSONNEL OF A FOREIGNCARRIER TRAVELLING BEYOND THE TERRITORIALLIMIT OF ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY; AND THUS ISOUTSIDE THE AMBIT OF THE WARSAWCONVENTION.

    II. WHETHER x x x RESPONDENT AIR CARRIER OFPASSENGERS, IN FILING ITS MOTION TO DISMISSBASED ON LACK OF JURISDICTION OVER THESUBJECT MATTER OF THE CASE AND OVER ITSPERSON MAY BE DEEMED AS HAVING IN FACT

    AND IN LAW SUBMITTED ITSELF TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE LOWER COURT,ESPECIALLY SO, WHEN THE VERY LAWYERARGUING FOR IT IS HIMSELF THE RESIDENTAGENT OF THE CARRIER.

    Petitioners Arguments

    Petitioner argues that her cause of action arosenot from the contract of carriage, but from thetortious conduct committed by airline personnelof respondent in violation of the provisions of theCivil Code on Human Relations. Since her cause

    of action was not predicated on the contract ofcarriage, petitioner asserts that she has theoption to pursue this case in this jurisdictionpursuant to Philippine laws.

    Respondents Arguments

    In contrast, respondent maintains thatpetitioners claim for damages fell within theambit of Article 28(1) of the Warsaw Convention.

    As such, the same can only be filed before thecourts of London, United Kingdom or Rome, Italy.

    Our Ruling

    The petition is without merit.

    The Warsaw Convention has the force and effectof law in this country.

    It is settled that the Warsaw Convention has theforce and effect of law in this country. In SantosIII v. Northwest Orient Airlines,12 we held that:

    The Republic of the Philippines is a party to theConventio