Del Rosario Pandiphil Inc.
Shipping and the Law
Court disallows disability
benefits for failure to disclose
Ruben Del Rosario, Managing
Partner, Del Rosario & Del Rosario, July 7, 2005
failed to disclose his previous
illness and did not mention the name of his last employer in his application
form. The Supreme Court denied the
claim for permanent disability benefits as he misrepresented his illness
history. Further, the identity of
his last employer which he concealed in his application form paid him
disability benefits for an illness which he suffered on board said
employer’s vessel. This was
considered by the Court as material misrepresentation which is ground for
denial of disability benefits.
Seafarer worked as Tug Master on the “Grouper Ann”
commencing February 24, 1998. On
November 14, 1998, he requested repatriation
due to his hypertension. He was
requested by shipowner to wait for his replacement
but nevertheless seafarer disembarked and returned to Manila on January 28, 1999. He was found to be suffering from
He eventually died from said illness.
Her widow filed a claim for disability benefits. Manning agents denied the claim for
1. in seafarer’s
application for shipboard employment, he ticked “NO” beside the
question “ANY PREVIOUS ILLNESS:;
2. in seafarer’s
employment history, he did not state the name of his last employer with whom he
executed a Release and Quitclaim, dated September 26, 1997, in consideration of
the illness he suffered on board his vessel of assignment
3. in a medical certificate
issued by the Metropolitan
Hospital on July 23,
1996, seafarer was diagnosed to have hypertension, coronary artery disease and
The widow argued that her
husband did not state his illness in his application form as he was not aware
of said illness. Besides disability
benefits still had to be paid as even if the illness was pre-existing, such
fact will not defeat seafarer’s right to claim said benefits. Seafarer underwent a thorough medical
examination conducted by a physician designated by the manning agent and such
manning agent had every opportunity to determine if seafarer was medically fit
for the job. Further, even if the ailment
was contracted prior to his employment, this still would not deprive him of
compensation benefits, for what
matters is that his work
contributed, even in a small degree, to the development of the disease and in
bringing about his eventual death.
Labor Arbiter and the NLRC Commission denied seafarer’s claim. The Court of Appeals reversed the
decisions and ruled in favor of seafarer.
However, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of
Supreme Court ruled that the
evidence proves that seafarer knew
of his previous illness. He
committed misrepresentation when he claimed in his application form that he had no previous illness. He again committed misrepresentation
when he concealed the name of his last employer. Although he claims that he did not know of his serious illness, this
good faith defense is negated by his misrepresentation in his employment
history. He concealed a material
fact when he did not state the name of his last employer with whom he executed
a Release and Quitclaim in consideration of the illness he suffered on the
claim for total disability benefits was denied.
OSM Shipping Phil. Inc. vs. Antonia De La Cruz, G.R. No. 159146,
January 28, 2005
T. Del Rosario is managing partner of Del Rosario & Del Rosario. He
is former president of the Maritime Law Association of the Philippines and
is currently president of the Philippine Maritime Voluntary Arbitrators
Association. Del Rosario is correspondent of several P & I Clubs.
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Del Rosario Pandiphil Inc.
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