Monrovia’s Civil Law Court “B” has ordered private banking entity Guaranty Trust Bank Liberia to pay US$250,000 to its former employee Sie Edward Freeman as general damages for the injuries, humiliation, emotional distress and mental anguish he suffered following a row with the bank’s former Managing Director AyodejiBejide.
“… 1st defendant (Guaranty Trust Bank) is adjudged liable to plaintiff (Freeman) for the injuries he sustained on August 28, 2018. 1st defendant is ordered to pay the amount of US$250,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) as general damages for the injuries, humiliation, emotional distress, and mental anguish suffered by plaintiff …,” Judge Scheaplor R. Dunbar ruled Wednesday, 3 June.
Mr. Freeman filed the case following an incident on 28 August 2018 which occurred during one of the bank’s weekly meetings between the managing director and heads of departments. Freeman who was then the head of Public Sector Group at the bank, complained that he was assaulted on his face by his boss Mr. Bejide with a big calculator at the meeting as a way of expressing agitation at the complainant for making recommendations that the accused claimed were not in the bank’s best interest.
According to Freeman, while he bled and tears rolled down his eyes, Bejide showed no remorse for his action, leaving the victim to disgracefully walk through the banking hall to find his car. Freeman argued that the injuries, humiliation and embarrassment caused by Bejide were done during the normal course of duty at the bank’s premises during a meeting.
He therefore requested the court to hold both the bank and its managing director Bejide liable for the injuries, humiliation and embarrassment he suffered because at the time of the incident, his attacker was an employee of the bank and was acting within the scope of his employment.
During the proceeding, GT Bank’s Human Resource Manager Mrs. Saydah Miller – Duncan testified that she was not in office when the incident occurred on 28 August 2018, but added that Mr. Bejide was placed under indefinite suspension by the board of directors and the group’s office after the incident. Ruling on the matter Wednesday, Judge Dunbar rules that Mr. Freeman established his case against the defendants by a preponderance of evidence.
He says under the Liberian laws, the burden of proof rests on the party who alleges a fact and it is sufficient if the party who has the burden of proof establishes his allegation by a preponderance of the evidence.
Judge Dunbar notes that the assault resulted in Freeman sustaining a cut on his lower lips which made him to bleed profusely, leading the complainant to take treatment at a local health facility at the S.K.D. Boulevard.
He explains that an employer’s liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, including whether the employee’s conduct is closely related in time, place and causation to the job, so that activity is a foreseeable risk of the particular employment.
In the instant case, Judge Dunbar rules that the wrongful conduct complained of – assault on the person of Freeman – was carried out by Bejide on the bank’s premises during normal working hours, and in the normal and ordinary course of business. “There is no way 1st defendant (GT Bank) can successfully argue that it cannot be held vicariously liable for the injuries sustained by plaintiff,” he rules. He concludes that Freeman is entitled to judgment in his favor, having produced clear and cogent evidence in support of his allegation.
By Winston W. Parley