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Woman wins $120,000 judgment
A 46-year-old aspiring social worker from Sangre Grande, who was seriously injured after being struck by a cricket ball during a class at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Open Campus, has received over $120,000 in compensation.
High Court Judge Ricky Rahim ordered the compensation for Vidya Jaglal on Tuesday, after ruling that the distance education institution was negligent in failing to provide a safe environment for students at its part-time facility at North Eastern College in Sangre Grande.
The case centered around an incident at the school compound on March 5, 2012. Jaglal, a typist clerk with the Ministry of Community Development, was attending a class for a certificate in social work when a ball travelled through the ventilation blocks of the classroom and struct her on her head.
Since then she has had to receive continuous treatment for chronic debilitating neck pain and has been left with a 20 per cent permanent partial disability.
UWI and the school challenged the lawsuit, alleging that Jaglal fabricated the story because her claim allegedly defied physics and logic based on the layout of the school compound.
However, Rahim conducted a comprehensive site visit during the trial of the case, where the cricket pitch and classroom were closely examined.
Stating that the evidence in the case was “clear as daylight” on Tuesday, Rahim ruled that Jaglal had successfully proven her claim.
Although he ruled that while there was no evidence of such an incident occurring before, he said it was a reasonably foreseeable consequence due to the close proximity of both areas.
He said: “Firstly, cricket was being played merely within 100 feet of the classroom with a clear line of sight to the large ventilation blocks...The defendants have given no evidence whatsoever as to the steps or measures they may have to put in place to secure the area in which cricket was being played so that the classroom essentially formed part of the open field as it were.”
He also dismissed claims by both the institution and school that neither had a duty of care towards Jaglal.
“The first defendant (UWI) has a duty to provide a safe environment for its students and the second defendant (school), in providing the classroom for use of the first defendant, likewise had a duty of care to provide a safe environment for the students,” Rahim said.
In his 45-page judgement, Rahim ruled that Jaglal was entitled to $60,000 in general damages for the pain and suffering she endured and a total of $72,293.60 in special damages.
The special damages represent the $26,653 in medical expenses, her loss of earnings (unpaid sick leave) as a result of continued pain ($39,340) and the money she expended in travelling to and from regular hospital visits since the incident ($6,300).
“Since the incident she has been unable to carry out basic household chores such as cooking, cleaning her home and playing with her children. It is now difficult for her to push the trolley in the grocery, as she experiences a lot of pain in her neck and head,” he said.
He also noted that since the incident she is required to wear a neck brace and to take muscle relaxants regularly.
Jaglal was represented by Douglas Bayley and Kavita Sarran. David Alexander and Dave de Peiza represented UWI, while Antionette Alleyne and Nisa Simmons represented the Office of the Attorney General, which appeared on the school’s behalf.
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