Industrial Court Faults Firm on Negligence, Awards Damages To Late Delivery Agent

Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir of the Portharcourt Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has found a firm guilty of negligence over the death of its delivery agent, late Chukwuma which occurred in the course of his employment with the firm.

The Court declared that the firm’s negligence contributed to the death of Late Chukwuma, and ordered the firm to pay Chukwuma’s estate the sum of Twelve Million Naira (N12,000,000.00) as general and special damages.

From facts, the claimants – Mrs Blessing (Wife) and Mr. Duff (Elder Brother) suing as representatives of other dependents of late Chukwuma, a delivery staff, had averred that since the gruesome killing of the late Chukwuma in the hands of the company’s customers, the company has not supported his family in any way and no compensation has been paid and that the untimely death of the deceased was caused by the company’s negligence and or breach of statutory duty.

Counsel added that the Record of Proceedings of the murder trial in the Rivers State High Court where the killers of the late Chukwuma Eluu Eleje were convicted and sentenced to death, and during trial two members staff of the firm gave evidence that the late Chukwuma was a staff of the company.

They alleged that the company failed to ensure adequate protection for late Chukwuma after failed attempt to deliver customer goods who changed address but was forced to work in a notoriously dangerous location which the company knew or should have known presented a great risk to the life of the deceased.

However, the company filed a memorandum of appearance and failed to defend the matter despite being served with hearing notices several times.

The claimants stated that the Defendant’s failure to defend the matter despite being served all the processes amounts to admission, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.

Delivering judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Zaynab Bashir held that the defendant has a duty to protect and provide a safe environment for its staff and declared that the Defendant’s negligence contributed to the death of Late Chukwuma.

The Court stated that Mrs Blessing and Mr. Duff have discharged with cogent and reliable evidence to establish the negligence of the firm and the breach of their duty of care to the late Chukwuma in the course of his employment with the firm.

On the claimants’ request for the sum of N500,000,000.00 as general damages, Justice Zaynab ordered the defendant to pay to Mrs Blessing and Mr. Duff the sum of N2,000,000.00 as general damages and N10, 000,000.00 as special damages.