Ortigas v Lufthansa; G.R. No. L-28773; 30 Jun 1975; 64 SCRA 610

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Petitioner Ortigas filed a complaint against the airline. After the issues were joined, a pre-trial was heard, the parties submitted a partial stipulation of facts and thereafter went to trial. Of the 24 times the case as set for hearing, it was postponed at least 10 times at the instance of the defendant. When the defendant’s witnesses failed to appear in court on September 28, 1966, the trial judge denied all motions for postponement and ordered the entire testimony of one of defendant’s witness stricken out on account that plaintiff’s counsel was not able to finish cross-examining said witness. The case was then deemed submitted for decision on the evidence already presented.

Whether or not the striking out of the witness’ entire testimony was arbitrary or oppressive to the defendant’s cause.

NO. The right of a party to cross-examine the witnesses of his adversary is invaluable as it is inviolable in civil cases, no less than the right of the accused in criminal cases. The express recognition of such right of the accused in the Constitution does not render the right thereto of parties in civil cases less constitutionally based, for it is an indispensable part of the due process guaranteed by the fundamental law.

Judgment appealed from is MODIFIED by raising the award of moral and exemplary damages to plaintiff Ortigas to P150,000.00 and P100,000.00, respectively. In all other respects, including as to the payment of interest on the said amounts, the same is affirmed.

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