The Presiding Judge, Awka Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice John Targema has found Axxon Limited vicariously liable for the negligence of the accident that led to the fatal injury suffered by Mr. Happy Uche on the course of duty.
The Court ordered the Axxon Limited within 30 days to pay Mr. Happy Uche the sum of ₦15,000,000.00 (Fifteen Million Naira) as damages for negligence of the loss of his lower left limb while on the way in company’s vehicle for an official assignment.
Justice Targema held that the negligence that resulted in the fatality and severe injuries of Mr. Happy Uche whose left lower limb was amputated is sufficient explanation of the fact of negligence.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Happy Uche had submitted that he was mobilized with a crew of 7 other personnel for official task and all enquiry as to the where about of the company’s official driver fell on deaf ears; that barely two hours into the journey, an accident occurred which left him and others severely injured, and resulted in his left leg being amputated.
He averred that after his meritorious service for 8 years, the alleged ₦2million paid to him as entitlements without the payment of his contributory pension is an aberration.
In defense, the defendant- Axxon Limited prayed the Court to strike out or dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction on the ground that the matter is statute barred by virtue of Limitation Law of Delta State for filing after 5 years when the cause of action arose.
The company maintained that Mr. Happy Uche was well taken care of in one of the best hospital, that it bought a car and procure prosthesis and other sundry materials for his proper care and well-being and he was promoted to a Management staff; and worked for more than 5 (five) years after the accident and resigned voluntarily on 4 March 2019.
The defendants argued that Mr. Uche has not been able to prove a case of negligence against the firm.
In opposition, Mr. Uche’s counsel, Emokiniovo Dafe-Akpedeye, SAN urged the Court to hold the company vicariously liable for the negligence of their employee who caused the accident that led to the fatal injury suffered by his client.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice John Targema affirmed the jurisdiction of the court and held that the suit falls within the exceptions to the Limitation Law of Delta State.
The Court further held that the negligence that resulted in the fatality and severe injuries of others, including Mr. Happy Uche whose left lower limb was amputated is sufficient explanation of the fact of negligence.
Justice Targema ruled that the defendants’ argument that Mr. Happy Uche is the head of the crew and the most senior staff among the crew of the firm on that fateful day the accident occurred does not take away the vicarious liability of the firm.
“I have no doubt whatsoever in the instant case that the defendants are negligent and so breached the duty of care it owes the claimant.
“There is no taking away the fact that claimant has his amputated lower left limb to live with and be reminded of the accident for life. For this, and just this, I award the sum of ₦15 Million as damages to the claimant against the defendants.”