Rights and responsibilities

Published by reposted only Date posted on August 20, 2014

A person may have rights under our laws. But like all rights, they have limitations. So if one goes beyond these limitations he/she may be held liable for damages as demonstrated in this case of Karen.

Karen is an airline company employee with offices at a mall. One time she decided to visit a Boutique located also in the same mall to buy some jeans. After fitting four items: two jeans, a blouse and shorts, she decided to purchase the black jeans worth P2,098.

After making the purchase Karen went to another store. But on the way, a Boutique employee approached her and informed her that she failed to pay for the black jeans. She, however, insisted that she paid for it and even showed the receipt to the employee. Then she suggested that they should talk about it at the airline company office.

At the office, Karen claims that the Boutique employee started humiliating her in front of the clients of the airline company and repeatedly demanded payment for the black jeans. The issue was not settled until Karen went home.

To her surprise, Karen learned that the Boutique owner sent a letter to her employer and to the Mall’s HR department containing accusations damaging to her reputation. Feeling aggrieved, Karen filed a “Complaint for Damages” against the Boutique owner because of physical anxiety, sleepless nights, mental anguish, fright, serious apprehension, besmirched reputation, moral shock and social humiliation she suffered due to those acts of the Boutique owner.

In their answer, the Boutique owner claimed that its employees were merely exercising their right to verify whether or not payments were indeed made by Karen. They admitted that there was merely a miscommunication amongst its employees and that they took all measures to calmly talk with Karen.

Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed Karen’s complaint stating that the Boutique was merely exercising its right to verify the payment and that it was Karen who put herself in the situation when she requested that they talk about it at her place of work in the airline office. Further, the RTC said that the letter to Karen’s employer was merely asking for assistance and was done in good faith.

The Court of Appeals (CA), however, did not agree. It reversed the decision of the RTC and ruled that Boutique owner was in bad faith because the letter it sent to Karen’s employer did not merely ask for assistance but also contained accusations against Karen. Besides, it unnecessarily dragged Karen’s employer which was not a privy to the transaction.

Was the CA correct?

Yes. It can be inferred from the demand letter to Karen’s employer that Boutique owner intended not only to ask for assistance in collecting the disputed amount but to tarnish Karen’s reputation in the eyes of her employer. To malign her without substantial evidence and despite the latter’s possession of enough evidence in her favor, is clearly impermissible. A person should not use his right unjustly or contrary to honesty and good faith, otherwise, he opens himself to liability. The SC further said that the exercise of a right must be in accordance with the purpose for which it was established and must not be excessive or unduly harsh. The Boutique owner obviously abused its rights (California Clothing Inc. and Michelle S. Ybañez vs. Shirley G. Quiñones, G.R. No. 175822, October 23, 2013). –Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

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