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Liberia news

Court Ignores US$1.8m Verdict

The Civil Law Court “A” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has set aside a jury panel’s US$1.8m verdict awarded accident victim Lucia Lamine. Victim Lamine filed for general damages for injuries sustained when a Cellcom GSM company’s vehicle hit her on 18 August 2012.

Resident Judge Yussif D. Kaba ruled Tuesday, 6 September that the US$1.8m awarded victim Lamine was not only above what she prayed for, but observed that it was not also supported “by the quantum of evidence adduced during the trial.”

Judge Kaba said the victim prayed for US$800,000, but the jury awarded her US$1.8m “without any justification for doing so,” emphasizing that if the jury had correctly determined that Cellcom GSM was liable, US$1.8m would not have been justified.

He ruled that a new trial should be held in the case, ordering victim Lamine to submit to an independent medical examination at any specialized medical institution in Africa of her choice to evaluate
and determine her present medical condition.
He ruled that the cost and expense will be at the account of Cellcom GSM, as the court aims to establish whether the victim’s injury has healed and whether the back pain and difficulty in walking normally
was caused by a degenerative disc disease [resulting from] the accident in 2012.
Judge Kaba had said before the trial commenced in October 2015, victim Lamine had refused to undergo examination at any specialized hospital here in Africa to determine her present condition, rather insisting to
be taken to America or be given US$300,000 as settlement.
In her action for damages, victim Lamine requested for L$10,000 as special damages for the amount she withdrew ffrom a bank, but lost during the accident that happened in Bong County in August 2012.
She further requested US$300,000 for pain and suffering she underwent over two years; and another US$100,000 for pain, mental anguish, inconveniences and absence from school for two years.
In addition to another demand for US$200,000 for mental anguish and mental torture, she also requested “not less than US$200,000 if the medical evidence confirms that she would only have a fifty percent (50%) chance to maintain a pregnancy or deliver a child” due to a fracture.
In her complaint to the court, victim Lamine explained that she was treated at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia following the accident in Bong County and discharged on 22 September 2012.
However, she insisted that she continued to experience severe pain and difficulty in walking normally.
But in October 2013, Judge Kaba said victim Lamine went to Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor in crutches, complaining of back pain, difficulty in walking, chest pain and difficulty in breathing.
When Dr. Muvunandinda re-examined victim Lamine on 24 October 2013, Judge Kaba said the medical report issued by J.F.K Hospital revealed that the victim “had subluxation of L2-L3 of lumbar spine bones.
“The attending physician advised that she should undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI scan and obtain the services of a neurosurgeon abroad because the hospital did not have the facilities,” the Judge said.
He said victim Lamine made two trips to Ghana where she underwent an MRI examination at the Sunshine Diagnostic Center and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital at the expense of Cellcom GSM and its insurer.
According to Judge Kaba, the medical reports issued by both institutions revealed that victim Lamine had a degenerative disc disease; noting that “the medical reports did not establish whether this was caused by the accident or by other medical conditions.”-Edited by George Barpeen

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