De la Cruz vs. Northern Theatrical Enterprises, Inc., et al. No. L-7089. August 31, 1954

FACTS

Northern Theatrical, a domestic corporation, is operating a movie house in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Domingo De la Cruz, one of it employee, was hired as a special guard to maintain the entrance of the cinema and so as the peace and order of the premises.

In July 4 of 1941, a man named Benjamin Martin wanted to crash the entrance of the movie house. Infuriated by the refusal of plaintiff De la Cruz to let him in without first providing himself with a ticket, Martin attacked him with a bolo. De la Cruz defended himself as best he could until he was cornered, at which moment to save himself he shot the gate crasher, resulting in the latter’s death. Domingo was charged with homicide before the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte which was dismissed. He was again accused of the same crime of homicide of the same Court which he was finally acquitted. He demanded from his former employer reimbursement of his expenses but was refused, after which he filed the present action against the movie corporation to recover not only the amounts he had paid his lawyers but also moral damages said to have been suffered, due to his worry, his neglect of his interests and his family as well in the supervision of the cultivation of his land, a total of P1 5,000. The case was dismissed for the reason that he has no cause of action.

ISSUE

W/N an employee in line of duty and while in the performance of the task assigned to him, performs an act which eventually results in his incurring in expenses caused by a third party or stranger may recover damages against the employer

HELD

No. The employer is not legally obliged to give, legal assistance to its employee and provide him with a lawyer, naturally said employee may not recover the amount he may have paid a lawyer hired by him. Damages incurred here consisting of the payment of the lawyer’s fee did not flow directly from the performance of his duties but only indirectly because there was an efficient, intervening cause, namely, the filing of the criminal charges. The damage suffered by the plaintiff by reason of the expenses incurred by him in remunerating his lawyer, is not caused by his act of shooting to death the gate crasher but rather by the filing of the charge of homicide which made it necessary for him to defend himself with the aid of counsel.

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