Civil Law,  Legally Yours

Ang v. Court of Appeals and Bruno Soledad

Ang v. Court of Appeals and Bruno Soledad

G.R. No. 177874 : September 29, 2008

FACTS:

Under a “car-swapping” scheme, respondent Bruno Soledad (Soledad) sold his Mitsubishi GSR sedan 1982 model to petitioner Jaime Ang (Ang) by Deed of Absolute Sale dated July 28, 1992. For his part, Ang conveyed to Soledad his Mitsubishi Lancer model 1988, also by Deed of Absolute Sale of even date. As Ang’s car was of a later model, Soledad paid him an additional P55,000.00.

Ang, a buyer and seller of used vehicles, later offered the Mitsubishi GSR for sale through Far Eastern Motors, a second-hand auto display center. The vehicle was eventually sold to a certain Paul Bugash (Bugash) for P225,000.00, by Deed of Absolute Sale dated August 14, 1992. Before the deed could be registered in Bugash’s name, however, the vehicle was seized by virtue of a writ of replevin dated January 26, 1993, issued by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 21 in Civil Case No. CEB-13503, “BA Finance Corporation vs. Ronaldo and Patricia Panes,” on account of the alleged failure of Ronaldo Panes, the owner of the vehicle prior to Soledad, to pay the mortgage debt constituted thereon.

To secure the release of the vehicle, Ang paid BA Finance the amount of P62,038.47 on March 23, 1993. Soledad refused to reimburse the said amount, despite repeated demands, drawing Ang to charge him for Estafa with abuse of confidence before the Office of the City Prosecutor, Cebu City. By Resolution of July 15, 1993, the City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of evidence, drawing Ang to file on November 9, 1993 the first8 of three successive complaints for damages against Soledad before the RTC of Cebu City where it was docketed as Civil Case No. Ceb-14883.

ISSUE:

Whether the complaint had prescribed hinges on a determination of what kind of warranty is provided in the Deed of Absolute Sale subject of the present case

HELD

Yes. A warranty is a statement or representation made by the seller of goods, contemporaneously and as part of the contract of sale, having reference to the character, quality or title of the goods, and by which he promises or undertakes to ensure that certain facts are or shall be as he then represents them.

Warranties by the seller may be express or implied. Art. 1546 of the Civil Code defines express warranty as follows:

“Art. 1546. Any affirmation of fact or any promise by the seller relating to the thing is an express warranty if the natural tendency of such affirmation or promise is to induce the buyer to purchase the same, and if the buyer purchases the thing relying thereon. No affirmation of the value of the thing, nor any statement purporting to be a statement of the seller’s opinion only, shall be construed as a warranty, unless the seller made such affirmation or statement as an expert and it was relied upon by the buyer.”(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

On the other hand, an implied warranty is that which the law derives by application or inference from the nature of the transaction or the relative situation or circumstances of the parties, irrespective of any intention of the seller to create it.23 Among the implied warranty provisions of the Civil Code are: as to the seller’s title (Art. 1548), against hidden defects and encumbrances (Art. 1561), as to fitness or merchantability (Art. 1562), and against eviction (Art. 1548).

The earlier cited ruling in Engineering & Machinery Corp. states that “the prescriptive period for instituting actions based on a breach of express warranty is that specified in the contract, and in the absence of such period, the general rule on rescission of contract, which is four years (Article 1389, Civil Code).”

As for actions based on breach of implied warranty, the prescriptive period is, under Art. 1571 (warranty against hidden defects of or encumbrances upon the thing sold) and Art. 1548 (warranty against eviction), six months from the date of delivery of the thing sold.

Since what Soledad, as seller, gave was an implied warranty, the prescriptive period to file a breach thereof is six months after the delivery of the vehicle, following Art. 1571. But even if the date of filing of the action is reckoned from the date petitioner instituted his first complaint for damages on November 9, 1993, and not on July 15, 1996 when he filed the complaint subject of the present petition, the action just the same had prescribed, it having been filed 16 months after July 28, 1992, the date of delivery of the vehicle.

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