Actual damages are not presumed. The claimant must prove the actual amount of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty premised upon competent proof and on the best evidence obtainable.
G.R. No. 192446, 19 November 2014
Complainant GMA Veterans Force, Inc. filed a Complaint for Damages against defendant Snow Mountain Dairy Corporation. Previously, complainant and defendant entered into a security service agreement whereby. Just after a month, defendant informed complainant that all of the latter’s security personnel would be replaced and all monies due in the contract will be settled. Complainant responded reminding defendant that the contract is good for a year which could only be terminated for a just cause and a 30-day prior notice. Further, even if complainant waived the requirements for pre-termination, defendant would be liable to pay the remaining period of 8 1/2 months equivalent to P952,833.00.
HELD: Complainant was awarded P200,000.00 for temperate damages in lieu of actual damages. It is a well settled rule that “actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in satisfaction of, or in recompense for, loss or injury sustained. They proceed from a sense of natural justice and are designed to repair the wrong that has been done, to compensate for the injury inflicted and not to impose a penalty. The burden is to establish one’s case by a preponderance of evidence which means that the evidence, as a whole, adduced by one side, is superior to that of the other. Actual damages are not presumed. The claimant must prove the actual amount of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty premised upon competent proof and on the best evidence obtainable. Specific facts that could afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne must be pointed out. The award of actual damages cannot be simply based on the mere allegation of a witness without any tangible claim, such as receipts or other documentary proofs to support such claim.”
The lower courts awarded P952,833.50 actual or compensatory damages representing the remaining or unserved portion of the contract. The computation was based on the P16,014,00 per guard per month multiplied by 7 security guards and multiplied by the unserved portion. “However, the contracted amount of P16,014,00 per guard would not totally pertain to [complainant] as the same would cover the wage of the security guard and only the remaining portion of the contracted amount, i.e., after deducting the guard’s salary, would go to [complainant]. In this case, [complainant] had not shown that the security guards were not assigned to another employer, and that it was compelled to pay the guards despite the pre-termination of the security agreement to be entitled to the amount of P16,014.00 per month. Indeed, no evidence was presented by [complainant] establishing the actual amount of loss suffered by reason of the pre-termination. It is elementary that to recover damages, there must be pleading and proof of actual damages suffered.”
Notwithstanding, it is undeniable that complainant suffered pecuniary loss because of the pre-termination of its services without valid cause. As there was no proof, temperate or moderate damages would be proper. “Temperate damages may be allowed in cases where from the nature of the case, definite proof of pecuniary loss cannot be adduced, although the court is convinced that the aggrieved party suffered some pecuniary loss. We also take into consideration that [complainant] certainly spent for the security guard’s training, firearms with ammunitions, uniforms and other necessary things before their deployment to [defendant].”