by John Lloyd Macuñat

MARGARITA QUINTOS v. BECK, GR No. 46240, 1939-11-03

Facts:

plaintiff brought this action to compel the defendant to return to her certain furniture which she lent him for his use.

defendant was a tenant of the plaintiff and as such occupied the latter's house... upon the novation of the contract of lease between the plaintiff and the defendant, the former gratuitously granted to the latter the... use of the furniture

, subject to the condition that the defendant would return them to the plaintiff upon the latter's demand.

The plaintiff sold the property to Maria Lopez and Rosario Lopez

,... these three notified the defendant of the conveyance, giving him sixty days to vacate the premises under one of the clauses of the contract of lease.

There after the plaintiff required the defendant to return all the furniture transferred to him for his use.

The defendant... answered that she may call for them in the house where they are found.

the defendant,... wrote... letter to the plaintiff informing her that he could not give up the three gas heaters and the four electric lamps because he would use them until... the lease is due to expire.

The plaintiff refused to get the furniture in... view of the fact that the defendant had declined to make delivery of all of them.

before vacating the house, the defendant deposited with the Sheriff all the furniture belonging to the plaintiff and they are now on deposit in the warehouse

Issues:

whether the defendant complied with his obligation to return the furniture upon... the plaintiff's demand... whether the latter is bound to bear the deposit fees thereof... whether she is entitled to the costs of litigation.

Ruling:

The contract entered into between the parties is one of commodatum, because under it the plaintiff gratuitously granted the use of the furniture to the defendant, reserving for herself the ownership thereof; by this contract the defendant bound himself to return the... furniture to the plaintiff, upon the latter's demand

The obligation voluntarily assumed by the defendant to return the furniture upon the plaintiff's demand, means that he should... return all of them to the plaintiff at the latter's residence or house. The defendant did not comply with this obligation when he merely placed them at the disposal of the plaintiff, retaining for his benefit the three gas heaters and the four electric lamps.

As the defendant had voluntarily undertaken to return all the furniture to the plaintiff, upon the latter's demand, the Court could not legally compel her to bear the expenses occasioned by the deposit of the furniture at the defendant's behest. The latter, as bailee, was not... entitled to place the furniture on deposit; nor was the plaintiff under a duty to accept the offer to return the furniture, because the defendant wanted to retain the three gas heaters and the four electric lamps.

The costs in both instances should be borne by the defendant

The defendant was the one who breached the contract of commodatum, and without any reason he refused to return... and deliver all the furniture upon the plaintiff's demand. In these circumstances, it is just and equitable that he pay the legal expenses and other judicial costs which the plaintiff would not have otherwise defrayed.

Principles: