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COW told to pay

easterncaribbeansupremecourtBarbadian company C.O. Williams Construction Limited is facing legal troubles in a neighbouring island.

On the heels of Chairman Sir Charles Williams confirming to Barbados TODAY that his organisation was likely to lay off some of its staff in the face of a difficult economic climate and arrears owed by government, investigations revealed the Barbadian road builder was faced with another financial challenge of a different kind.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court recently ordered C.O. Williams Construction to pay Dominican Adrien Mitchell – who is suing the company after fracturing his hip on a walkway it was constructing in Dominica last year – an “interim” sum of EC$50,000.

This was to enable the 43 year-old man to travel here for an operation by well known Barbadian Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Jerry Thorne.

Barbados TODAY also learnt that additional bad news coming out of the interim judgment against C.O. Williams Construction was that in making his ruling Acting Master of the ECSC, Charlesworth Tabor indicated that based on the evidence of the lawsuit, the “balance of probabilities” suggested the Barbados road builder would lose the case outright.

The court official concluded that not only had Mitchell “satisfied the threshold required”, but the Bajan firm, with its public liability insurance and a $150,000 bond, was “in a position to make the interim payment”.

On November 21 last year, the Dominican man, whose court documents described as a “dialysis patient suffering from an end stage renal disease”, submitted that in February last year while walking to the Pointe Michel Credit Union along a walkway constructed by C.O. Williams Construction “he fell through the walkway into a hole beneath it”.

“At the time of the incident, the defendant was operating under a contractual arrangement with the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica to undertake road works in the Point Michel area. As part of the facilitation of these road works, the defendant constructed a walkway along the Pointe Michel road which was under its management and control when the accident occurred,” information from the court recounted.

“The claimant contends that the accident was as a result of the negligence of the defendant, its servants or agents.” Mitchell is suing C.O. Williams for negligence on six grounds, including that the company failed to secure the walkway to make it safe for pedestrians and did not warn them it was dangerous and had a hole underneath.

Mitchell, through his submitted evidence and counsel Gina Dyer-Munro, successfully argued at the court that he needed to travel to Barbados for surgery because the procedure required was not available in Dominica.

“As a result of the accident, the claimant sustained a closed intertrochanteric fracture of his right femur. This diagnosis was confirmed by an X-ray taken on February 29, 2012 at the Princess Margaret Hospital. In the medical report of March 27, 2012 by Dr. Jendayi Nibbs of the Princess Margaret Hospital, it is noted that the claimant requires surgical treatment of an open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture with a dynamic plate and screw and that the hardware to undertake this procedure is unavailable in Dominica,” the court stated.

“The medical report further notes that any other attempt at Open Reduction Internal Fixation using alternative hardware will necessitate a longer surgery and cause more extensive bleeding which are unacceptable risks in an End Stage Renal Disease patient such as the claimant.

As a consequence, Dr. Hendricks Paul has recommended that the claimant get medical treatment outside of Dominica.” In her submission, counsel for C.O. Williams Construction, attorney-at-law Colleen Felix, had argued that “if at all the claimant’s injury did occur in the place and manner alleged, the accident was wholly caused by the claimant or partly, by his own negligence”.

Felix also told the court that the interim payment should not be made, partly because “there was no admission of liability and the versions of how the accident occurred were at considerable variance”, and also because the application for the payment was submitted late.

The court Master differed, however, and said the C.O. Williams Construction legal team’s characterisation of the incident as one “where claimant stumbled, slipped or over balanced in some manner unknown to them so as to fall and injure himself” was “quite startling and certainly at trial would undermine their case”. (SC)

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