Pandiman vs. Marine Manning Management Corp. & Singhid, G.R. NO. 143313 : June 21, 2005
Benito Singhid (Benito) was hired by Fullwin Maritime Limited (Fullwin), through its local agent, respondent Marine Manning and Management Corporation (MMMC), as chief cook on board the vessel MV Sun Richie Five for a term of twelve (12) months. The vessel and its crew were insured with Ocean Marine Mutual Insurance Association Limited (OMMIAL), a Protection and Indemnity Club (P&I Club). OMMIAL transacted business in the Philippines through its local correspondent, herein petitioner Pandiman Philippines, Inc. (PPI). While on board, Benito suffered a heart attack, and subsequently died. After Benito’s remains were interred, his widow Rosita filed a claim for death benefits with MMMC, which, however, referred her to herein petitioner PPI. Rosita’s death claims remained unpaid.
Rosita filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint for recovery of death benefits, moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees against MMMC, Fullwin, petitioner PPI and OMMIAL. The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint insofar as petitioner is concerned. The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), set aside that of the Labor Arbiter, absolved respondent MMMC from any liability and instead held petitioner and OMMIAL liable for Rosita’s claim The CA held petitioner PPI liable for Rosita’s death claims under the said contract of insurance, on the postulate that petitioner is an insurance agent, a term defined and understood under Section 300 of the Insurance Code:
Section 300. Any person who for compensation solicits or obtains insurance on behalf of any insurance company transmits for a person other than himself an application for a policy or contract of insurance to or from such company or offers or assumes to act in the negotiating of such insurance shall be an insurance agent within the intent of this section and shall thereby become liable to all the duties, requirements, liabilities and penalties to which an insurance agent is subject.
PPI, however, claims that it is not an insurance agent but a mere local correspondent of the P&I Club.
(a) WON Petitioner is an insurance agent.
NO. There is nothing therein to show that an insurance contract which will make petitioner an insurance agent under the aforequoted Section 300 of the Insurance Code. In any event, payment for claims arising from the peril insured against, to which the insurer is liable, is definitely not one of the liabilities of an insurance agent. Thus, there is no legal basis whatsoever for holding petitioner solidarily liable with insurer OMMIAL for Rosita’s claim for death benefits on account of her husband’s demise while under the employ of MMMC’s principal, Fullwin.
Under the principle of “relativity of contracts”, petitioner PPI cannot be held liable for the same death benefits claims. The insurance contract between the insurer and the insured, under Article 1311 of the Civil Code, is binding only upon the parties (and their assigns and heirs) who execute the same. With the reality, as borne by the records, that petitioner PPI is not a party to the insurance contract in question, no liability or obligation arising therefrom, may be imposed upon it.
(b) Which among FULLWIN ( Benito had employment contract), MMMC ( local Agent), OMMIAL ( P& I Club which the crews were insured) or PPI (petitioner, local agent of OMMIAL) shall be held liable for Rosita’s claim for death benefits as Benito’s widow.
Benito was employed by Fullwin through its manning agency, MMMC. Fullwin, Benito’s principal employer is, therefore, liable under the same employment contract. For its part, MMMC is bound by its undertaking pursuant to the Rules and Regulations Governing Overseas Employment (1991) that the manning applicants:
(3) Shall assume joint and solidary liability with the employer for all claims and liabilities which may arise in connection with the implementation of the contract, including but not limited to payment of wages, health and disability compensation and repatriation;
Respondent MMMC is jointly and solidarily liable with its foreign principal Fullwin, for whatever death benefits Benito’s widow is entitled to under Benito’s employment contract.
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