Seller of expired products faces jail

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I bought milk from a grocery store in Taguig. When my daughter consumed one cup of the milk, she immediately complained of excruciating stomach pain, and continued to defecate. I immediately rushed her to the hospital where the doctor diagnosed that she had an amoebiasis. When I checked the milk, I found out that it was already expired. I immediately complained to the grocery store about it.

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The grocery store personnel immediately removed their stocks of milk that were displayed on the shelves, and shouldered the hospital expenses of my daughter. However, they lured me to sign a quitclaim/waiver absolving them from any liability. The money they gave me was not enough to cover the continued medication of my daughter.

What is the liability of the grocery store? Can I still file a claim for damages against them?
Redentu

Dear Redentu,
An expired product is considered as an adulterated food pursuant to Letter a (7), Section 23, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7394 otherwise known as The Consumer Act of the Philippines. The manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, or transfer of any food, drug, device or cosmetic that is adulterated or mislabelled is a prohibited act under Article 40 of the same law. Any person who violates any of the provisions of Article 40 hereof shall, upon conviction, be subject to imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than five years, or a fine of not less than P5,000 but not more than P10,000, or both such imprisonment and fine, in the discretion of the Court. Should the offense be committed by a juridical person, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the President, General Manager, or the partners and/or persons directly responsible therefor shall be penalized. (Letter A, Article 41, Ibid.)

The abovementioned provisions of law have been violated by the grocery store. You can also file a claim for damages based on Article 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which provides that: “Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called quasi-delict xxx.” The result of the examination/test conducted by the Local Health Officer on the expired milk shall be necessary to bolster your claim.

Even if you have executed a quitclaim/waiver in favor of the grocery store, such waiver is not valid because it is in contravention with public policy or law. This is supported by Article 6 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which states that: “rights may be waived, unless the waiver is contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals, or good customs or prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law”.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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