Parents of electrocuted UST student sue for damages
The parents of a University of Santo Tomas (UST) student who was electrocuted on the flooded España Boulevard last year are seeking P32.6 million in damages in a civil case filed against Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the city government.
In the case filed in the Manila Regional Trial Court earlier this week, Ephrem and Analiza Arcilla held Meralco and City Hall responsible for supposedly failing to ensure the safety of the lamp posts on the Gate 1 side of the UST campus.
Their son, Siegfreid Nathan, 22, then a second-year medical student, was one of the three people who suffered an electric shock due to the exposed wiring of the lamp posts during the flash flood caused by Tropical Storm “Mario” on Sept. 19, 2014.
Witnesses said Siegfreid was wading through waist-deep flood around 5 p.m. when his umbrella touched one of the lamp posts and he suddenly collapsed.
Security guards then got him out of the water using a piece of wood and brought him to UST Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. The medico legal report later stated the cause of death as consistent with that of electrocution.
About three hours before Siegfreid Nathan’s death, another student identified as Cedric Fabie, this time from Far Eastern University, was also injured due to electric shock in the same area. Fabie spent several days in the hospital for his injuries that required admission to the intensive care unit.
Citing a spot report from the Manila Police District, the Arcillas pointed out that local authorities already asked the Meralco Action Center to cut off electricity in the flooded area after the incident involving Fabie.
Yet at 7:45 p.m. the same day, a third victim identified as Glendon Benedicto was electrocuted on España and was pronounced dead at United Doctors Medical Center.
The Arcillas said they sent a letter to Meralco to seek damages on Oct. 18, 2014, but the utility firm denied liability, saying it neither owned nor operated the lamp posts, in a reply sent the following month.
Meralco “disclaims any liability in their letter dated Nov. 5, 2014, because of the chipped off or cracked concrete base of the lamp posts and exposed underground cables,” the complainants said, but it “cannot disavow liability because it should have already turned off the electricity in that area because of the flood.”
They said the city government should also be held liable under the Civil Code for failing to ensure the lamp posts’ safety.
The Arcillas asked the Manila RTC court to award them P50,000 in civil indemnity, P20 million for loss of earning capacity, P5 million in moral damages, P5 million in exemplary damages, P2.5 million for cost of litigation and P116,200 in actual damages.
Reached for comment, Meralco first vice president and head of legal affairs William Pamintuan said: “We have not received yet a copy of the complaint. We would like to reiterate our view that Meralco cannot be held liable for facilities it does not own and operate.”
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