Published 5 July 2024, The Daily Tribune

A 59-year-old wife had a headache and vomited shortly after her workout in a fitness center where she was a member. It turned out that the gym staff, who were medical professionals, failed to take her blood pressure before the workout. However, the gym staff immediately brought her to the hospital.

After three days, the wife died from a cerebral hemorrhage and severe hypertension. Aggrieved, her husband imputed negligence on the fitness center and its employees responsible for failing to provide medical supervision as they publicly advertised, and filed a complaint for damages. The fitness center denied liability.

This was the background of the case, Kim v. Slimmers World International et al. (G.R. No. 206321, 3 April 2024), where the Supreme Court resolved the issue of whether a fitness center and its employees should be held liable for damages resulting from the death of a gym member.

Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled against the fitness center and its employees. Interestingly, both courts relied on different legal provisions.

The trial court cited Article 2176 of the Civil Code for tort/quasi-delict while the appellate court turned to Article 1172 governing contracts.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that both courts were wrong because there was no liability arising from tort or contractual negligence in this case. The husband failed to establish the last three requisites of an action based on tort, namely: (1) the damage suffered by his wife; (2) the act or omission of the fitness center and its employees constituting fault or negligence; and (3) the proximate cause between the negligent act and the damage sustained.

Here, the evidence revealed that the gym member had declared in her application form that she was not suffering from any pre-existing health conditions despite her duty to divulge the same before engaging in any gym activity.

The Supreme Court explained that the fitness center could not be faulted for relying on such a declaration, adding that the employees even took precautions despite this concealment by conducting the necessary tests and body composition training before the start of the fitness program.

While the Supreme Court commiserated with the husband, its impartial assessment of the case found that there was no proximate cause between the alleged negligent act and the death.

The preponderance of evidence tilted against the husband for it did not preclude the probability that the death might have been due to factors other than the workout.

There could also be no breach of contract in this case. The Supreme Court held that the husband may not use the newspaper advertisement of the fitness center as proof of the latter’s contractual obligation since advertisements or solicitations are ordinarily construed as mere proposals and not the contract per se. Instead, it was the signed Member’s Handout that signified the perfected contract, which provided that the offered medical supervision merely consisted of a free consultation subject to a prior appointment and not the taking of blood pressure before every workout.

For more of Dean Nilo Divina’s legal tidbits, please visit For comments and questions, please send an email to