Merritt vs Government of the Philippine Islands

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Merrit vs Government of the Philippine Islands Case Digest

Merritt vs Government of the Philippine Islands

E. MERRITT, plaintiff-appellant,

G.R. NO. L-11154
MARCH 21, 1916


Merritt, while riding his motorcycle, was hit by an ambulance owned by the Philippine General Hospital. A driver employed by the hospital drove it. In order for Merritt to sue the Philippine government, Act No. 2457 was enacted by the Philippine Legislature authorizing Merritt to sue the Government of the Philippine Islands and authorizing the Attorney-General of said Islands to appear in said suit. A suit was then filed before the CFI of Manila, which fixed the responsibility for the collision solely on the ambulance driver and determined the amount of damages to be awarded to Merritt. Both parties appealed from the decision, plaintiff Merritt as to the amount of damages and defendant in rendering the amount against the government.


WON defendant, Government of the Philippines, waived its immunity from suit as well as conceded its liability to the plaintiff when it enacted Act No. 2457.


NO. By consenting to be sued, a state simply waives its immunity from suit. It does not thereby concede its liability to the plaintiff, create any cause of action in his favor, or extend its liability to any cause not previously recognized. It merely gives a remedy to enforce a pre-existing liability and submit itself to the jurisdiction of the court, subject to its right to interpose any lawful defense.

The Government of the Philippines Islands is only liable, for the acts of its agents, officers and employees when they act as special agents. A special agent is one who receives a definite and fixed order or commission, foreign to the exercise of the duties of his office if he is a special official. The special agent acts in representation of the state and being bound to act as an agent thereof, he executes the trust confided to him. This concept does not apply to any executive agent who is an employee of the acting administration and who on his own responsibility performs the functions which are inherent in and naturally pertain to his office and which are regulated by law and the regulations. The responsibility of the state is limited to that which it contracts through a special agent, duly empowered by a definite order or commission to perform some act or charged with some definite purpose which gives rise to the claim, and not where the claim is based on acts or omissions imputable to a public official charged with some administrative or technical office who can be held to the proper responsibility in the manner laid down by the law of civil responsibility. The chauffeur of the ambulance of the General Hospital was not such an agent.

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