CASE SUMMARY OF:
Raimi Jenyo & Anr v. Akinsanmi Akinreti & Anr ( - SC
by NSA PaulPipAr
- Fatal accidents Act;
- Assessment of damages;
- Infant death;
1. Raimi Jenyo;
2. F. A. Aderemi (Administrators of the Estate of Basiratu Raimi (Deceased)
1. Akinsanmi Akinreti;
2. Nigerian Breweries Ltd.
 NGSC 78;
LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Abdul Ganiyu Olatunji Agbaje. JSC.
* FOR THE APPELLANT
- Chief F.R.A. Williams. S.A.N.
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
- Kayode Sofola. Esq..
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Bank: Zenith Bank.
Name: Branham Paul Chima.
Account No.: 2178756839.
FACT (as relating to the issues)
The plaintiffs, Raimi Jenyo and another, as the Administrators of the Estate of Busari Raimi (deceased child) sued the defendants, Akinsanmi Akinreti and another for the following reliefs:
AND the plaintiffs, as such Administrators as aforesaid, claim against the Defendants and each of them:
(i) N200,000.00 damages under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1961, for the benefit of the said parents of the deceased;
(ii) N400,000.00 Damages under the Civil Liability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1961, for the benefit of the estate of the deceased.
At paragraph 6(b)(ii) of the Amended Statement of Claim, the particulars of special expenses is shown as follows: (i) Medical Expenses N100.00 (ii) Funeral Expenses: (a) Coffin N20.00 (b) Others N100.00 (iii) Cost of Letters of Administration N29.00 TOTAL N249.00
Pleadings were ordered, filed and exchanged.
The trial judge at the at the end of the trial held that the Plaintiff cannot be awarded under the Fatal Accidents Act and at the same time under the Civil Liability Act; according to the trial judge, such would amount to double compensation. The trial judge made mention that the special damages claimed by the Plaintiffs were not proved. At the end, the trial judge only awarded N25,000 as general damages in favour of the Plaintiffs.
The defendants appealed against the whole of the decision to the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division. That court. coram Ademola, Kutigi and Kolawole. JJ.C.A. in its judgment dated 25th February, 1986 dismissed the defendants' appeal on the issue of liability and allowed their appeal on the issue of damages. As a result the general damages of N25,000.00 awarded against the defendants in favour of the plaintiffs were reduced to a rather paltry sum of N1,000.00 (one thousand naira).
The Plaintiffs have appealed on the damages to this Supreme Court.
1. Whether on the application of the correct principles relating to measure of damages in a case of this the lower court was right in reducing the damages of N25,000.00 awarded the plaintiff by the trial court drastically to N1,000.00?
HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
[APPEAL: DISMISSED WITH N500 COST]
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANTS BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENTS.
i. Mr. Kayode Sofola has submitted to us that it is the decision in Barnett v. Cohen & Ors. (1921)2 K.B. 461, where the plaintiff therein sued under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1846 (Lord Campbell's Ac') as personal representative of his infant son under four years old at the time of his death to recover damages for the death of his son from the in-juries caused by the negligence of the defendants there, that is relevant, here. The deceased infant in the instant case was five years old, at the time of his death. In that case it was held:
"In the present action the plaintiff has not satisfied me that he had a reasonable explanation of pecuniary benefit. His child was under four years old. The boy was subject to all the risks of ill ness, disease, accident and death. His education and upkeep would have been a substantial burden to the plaintiff for many years if he had lived. He might or might not have turned out a useful young man. He would have earned nothing till about sixteen years of age. He might never have aided his father at all. He might have proved a mere expense. I cannot adequately speculate one way or the other, where a claim is made under Lord Campbell's Act, as it is here, it is not only a question of the expectation of life of the deceased man, but there is also a question of the expectation of the life of the claimant."
Upon the facts of this case the plaintiff has not proved damage either actual or prospective. His claim is pressed to extinction by the weight of multiplied contingencies. The action therefore fails.
ii. The conclusion I reach therefore on the authorities is that I cannot say the Court of Appeal was wrong in cutting down drastically the damages awarded the plaintiff. The only criticism of the award by the Court of Appeal I can make is that, having regard to the authorities, it is itself too high. However, there is no appeal by the defendants against the award. So I must per-force leave it at that.
Fatal Accident Act, 1961;
Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.1934 (U.K.);
Civil Liability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1961;
Barnett V. Cohen & Ors. (1921)2 K.B. 461;
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In the instant case, all the plaintiffs pleaded in the amended statement of claim is that the life of the deceased had been considerably and abruptly shortened at a tender age "in consequence whereof her said estate and her parents have thereby suffered loss and damage." There was no evidence of the nature of loss. In fact, the parents did not give evidence at the trial. It was only plaintiffs' witness 1 who said she and E the deceased had been sent to buy something from the shops when the accident occurred. If one followed the English Act and the case of Cohen (supra), the plaintiff would not be entitled to any damages at all for what we have here cannot be anything but speculative possibility of pecuniary advantage. - Nnamani, JSC. Jenyo v. Akinreti (1990)
The end of this brief.
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