The First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) in resolving the direct amparo in review 2558/2021, analyzed the issue of moral damages, and established the guidelines to be followed to quantify it.

The origin of this matter arose from a strict liability lawsuit filed by a person after the death of his son as a result of an electric shock. In the first instance, the defendant and the insurer were acquitted; subsequently, on appeal, the Unitary Circuit Court declared that the indemnity for pecuniary damages was inadmissible; however, it sentenced the defendants for pain and suffering damages, establishing their quantification in correlation with the amount that would have corresponded to the material damage.

Finally, the plaintiff filed an amparo proceeding, which was denied, since the Collegiate Circuit Court considered that the way in which the moral damages were quantified was correct. In disagreement with this decision, an appeal for review was filed.

It should be noted that there is a complexity when quantifying moral damages due to the fact that it is considered “an injury to a non-patrimonial (or spiritual) right or interest that is a presupposition of a subjective right”.

In this sense and according to the provisions of article 1916 of the Federal Civil Code (CCF), the SCJN detailed several aspects that serve as a guide when quantifying the moral damage.

1. Full reparation of moral damages must be sought at all times. Limits or legal ceilings previously established or base parameters without the possibility of modification or casuistic assessment by the judge are not accepted.

2. Compensation must be comprehensive, equitable, fair and expeditious.

3. Do not condition or limit the moral damage to the compensation for material damage, since each one responds to its own particularities. Overlapping or duplication of compensation for each of them should be avoided.

4. Do not confuse the assessment of the existence of moral damages with the quantification of the corresponding compensation; they are conceptually different operations.

5. The elements of quantification provided by law are merely indicative factors, they are a guide for the actions of the judges, based on the function and purpose of the right to compensation for pain and suffering.

. The applicability of the elements of quantification of an indemnity must be distinguished in a case of subjective civil liability from one of strict civil liability.

7. The judge must respect and protect the right to legal equality.

8. The principle of not overcompensating the victim or unjustified enrichment should be safeguarded.

9. In specific and necessary cases to reduce the compensation of moral damages, this situation will be exceptional and will occur when in the trial it is demonstrated that the compensation that proceeds will generate an oppressive burden for the responsible party in light of the economic situation of the parties; in particular, in order to protect the right to the minimum vital.

For the application of the provision in these cases, it is necessary to differentiate with the legal entities, specifically if it is an insurance company, since they cannot demand this reduction as far as their scope is concerned since, contractually, they must respond for the total of the insured amount.