Not our fault

AG insists Gov’t not liable to ailing nurse

Government is not liable and therefore cannot be forced to pay any compensation to injured former Queen Elizabeth Hospital nurse Coral Wilkinson.

However, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite reminded today the Solicitor General’s Office was prepared to make an “ex gratia payment” to Wilkinson, who fell down a flight of stairs in the antenatal clinic in April 1981 and sustained a slipped disc in her neck and damage to the bone in the lower back which supports her body weight.

It’s the latest in the near 35-year long battle between Government and the ailing former medical professional.

Brathwaite spoke briefing to Barbados TODAY on the matter during the luncheon break of today’s sitting of Parliament after Wilkinson’s failed attempt last week to get an audience there with either the AG or Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, complaining that her case was simply dragging on for way too long and she had now reached the end of her tether.

However, the Attorney General, who is named in a lawsuit which Wilkinson filed against the State a year after her injury, reiterated that even though Government did not accept liability, the former nurse was still offered a sum of money so she could go to England and have the required surgery.

When the matter was first raised with him last December, Brathwaite had also noted that Wilkinson, through her attorney Sir Richard Cheltenham, QC, had rejected the offer.

“I see the pain she is going through. I spoke to the attorney and asked him to take a second look at it [the matter of payment] and see how quickly he can get rid of it,” the Attorney General said then.

It was back in February, 2015 that Crown Counsel Roger Barker, the Government lawyer handling Wilkinson’s case, had written on behalf of Solicitor General Jennifer Edwards offering the injured nurse an ex gratia payment of $145,159.70 for the surgery in the United Kingdom.

However, Wilkinson’s attorney replied in correspondence dated March 12, 2015 rejecting it on the grounds that the sum offered was insufficient; therefore to accept it was “virtually to condemn her to remaining in her presently helpless condition”.

Sir Richard’s counter-offer was $400,000, which he contended would cover air travel to and from the UK, accommodation, the expenses of the surgical team, physiotherapy and all other incidentals.

He argued that Government’s offer did not even cover the cost of the medical team in England whose maximum fee was 33,000 pounds sterling at the time.

Sir Richard had also asked Government to reconsider its offer, but in a comment on the matter last week the Prime Minister accused the prominent attorney of playing games and of not wanting to see an end to the case.

Stuart, who confirmed he had listened to the former nurse’s plight as recently as three weeks earlier when she called him at home, said he had first heard of her in 2008 when he served as Attorney General.

However, the Prime Minister insisted Wilkinson’s lawyer should get a judge to settle the matter.

“If they are not so happy with the judge’s settlement, appeal it. If they are not happy with what the Court of Appeal says, carry it to the Caribbean Court of Justice. That is how we do business in Barbados.

“This whole business of not doing anything, or not doing enough, and having her out there believing that somebody has wronged her, or somebody is delinquent in not responding to her [is unfortunate],” Stuart said.

Sir Richard, who is currently off island, is yet to respond to the Prime Minister and the AG’s latest pronouncements on the matter.

In the meantime, Wilkinson’s physical health continues to deteriorate. The St Thomas resident said in addition to her mental anguish, in recent months headaches had become a normal part of her existence, while her entire left side was smaller and her right side was getting weaker as she awaited surgery.

6 Responses to Not our fault

  1. Sue Donym June 29, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Thirty four years! Can someone or some agency be so completely intractable that a solution is impossible?

    I know that there have been accounts of visitors attacked and in no time arrangements were made for medical and support care, including plans for the next trip to Bim, all before they departed. I have seen repeat visitors feted by the PM, with speeches about how hospitable, caring and appreciative we are.

    The other thing I know is that there is a human being suffering to some extent and if a talk with the PM or AG could help in some way, even if to point her in another direction, it’s not too much to ask. I also know some other people who would not mind seeing a few less fireworks to ensure that this woman got a humane settlement.

    It must be well past the point of arguing about who is legally liable and to what extent, and I have no idea whether she was in the wrong place or doing the right thing, but the state she is now in cannot be healthy. And there is something that can be done to lessen her anguish… a matter of dollars and sense.

  2. dave June 29, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Pure Nonsense ! Clearly they are playing Political Football. They know hoe to work or not work the system when it suits them to be expeditious or to frustrate. When its their friends , they get busy, while with others they act lazy: 10 million dollars was advanced in a hurry to a certain entity because the man involved is somebody’s friend. Money of a private citizen was deposited at the Central Bank because he is somebody’s friend.

    I hope that these people realize that they will be ordinary citizens at some point in time.

  3. Donild Trimp June 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    The AD said the following:
    “Government is not liable and therefore cannot be forced to pay any compensation to injured former Queen Elizabeth Hospital nurse Coral Wilkinson.”

    The AG meant the following:
    If you were a white tourist, liable or not we would pay you the money you are asking for and a little more to show how grateful we are to you for visiting our beautiful island but unfortunately you are just a black Bajan woman so you are not getting one red cent from this Government.

  4. Coralita June 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    The Race Card being played out in this blog!!! SMH

    Can someone, anyone tell me why her attorney has not settled this matter in over 34 years??? I will not blame the government, an attorney, especially prominent ones like the one who is representing her should have had this matter settled long time ago. WHY THE HECK DID SHE HIRE HIM? I am disappointed in her attorney, she should have fired him long time.

    I agree with the prime minister, let a judge decide on the compensation.

  5. dave June 29, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    If she was ” a friend” of the Prime Minister or “a friend” of the Attorney General and that lot , she would have been treated better. A certain man with held over two hundred thousand dollars from an elderly man, elderly abuse by the way, and his colleagues and friends rally around and made sure that he got the money to pay back the old man. Why they cant rally round and make sure this woman gets her due. But clearly they are playing politicking –

    As I have said already these actions can only serve to polarize Barbados. Where are the honest and selfless people required to run the affairs of this country. These politicians are a BAD WORD !!!

  6. TINY June 29, 2016 at 10:14 pm



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