by Isi Esene
Samuel Chinedu Abana was recently awarded the sum of N3.5m by the High Court of Lagos State Ikeja Division, after winning a suit against a bullion van driver, Sunday Obiere, and his employer, the United Bank of Africa (UBA).
The court awarded the amount to the plaintiff as special and general damages after finding the defendant guilty of driving recklessly against traffic and hitting Mr. Abana’s car, knocking him and his driver unconscious.
The victim was said to have been in a coma for several weeks.
In his statement of claim to the court, Abana explained that the accident happened at a bend, thus making it impossible for him to see the Bullion Van marked PF 2672 SPY, which he said was speeding on the one way road.
He reportedly said after his Toyota Camry car with registration number, DX 677 LSR, was hit by the van, both himself and his driver lost consciousness and were rushed to the hospital by policemen, noting that the car was damaged beyond recognition.
In her ruling, trial Justice A.A. Philips said, “It is trite that where it is established that without apparent cause a driver goes off his side of the road to the other side of that road, as in this case, a court in the absence of an accepted explanation from the driver of the Vehicle, is entitled to draw an inference that it was due to momentary inattention amounting to criminal negligence. If an accident occurs as a result, the driver of the vehicle is liable in negligence.
“In conclusion therefore the alternate claims of the claimant in this action succeed and I find the 1st and 2nd defendants liable in damages to the claimant as claimed in the said claim before this court. These defendants shall therefore pay over to the claimant forthwith the sum of N3,396,000 which is the total of the claim for N2million plus N966,000 plus a further N430, 000.
“The 1st and 2nd defendants shall pay the costs of this action assessed at N100, 000.”
The defendants, Sunday Obiere and the UBA are, however, not taking the judgement lightly, they have sent a notice of appeal to the court stating their opposition to the ruling.
According to the Defendants, “The learned trial judge erred in law when she held that the appellants were liable in negligence and awarded the sum of N2m against the appellants in favour of the respondent.
“The respondent did not prove that the 2nd appellant drove against traffic; no evidence was led by the respondents as to the cause of the accident and/or police report on the accident.
“The learned trial judge did not take into consideration the wear and tear on the respondent’s vehicle for the period of usage.”
The legal tussle continues in this case which has continued to drag since January 17, 2007.