By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal awarded more than $300,000 in general damages to a man who became a paraplegic as a result of an incident with police officers in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Shawn Scott and his lawyer Harvey Tynes, QC, had contested an assistant registrar’s ruling to award him general damages worth $257,000 for pain, suffering, and loss of amenities stemming from police brutality he suffered on December 16, 1998.
On Monday, the appellate court handed down its decision, which was published online. Justices Anita Allen, Stanley John and Abdulai Conteh, the presiding judges of the appeal, substituted the original awarded sum of $257,000 with $325,000 for general damages.
The court further awarded Scott costs of the legal battle in both the Supreme Court and the appellate court.
Scott had filed a civil suit against the attorney general and commissioner of police in 2002. In January 2010, Justice Gray Evans ruled liability in favour of Scott for the injuries he received namely: paraplegia, a hematoma, laceration to (the) head, abrasion to (an) elbow and injury to lower back.
Justice Evans had ordered that his damages as a result of the incident be assessed, which was done at an assessment hearing in September 2013.
Before the hearing, Scott made additional claims to damages, including headaches and loss of bowel and bladder functions.
In 2013, Assistant Registrar Eurika Charlton awarded Scott more $886,089 in total damages, which included the $257,000 for pain, suffering, and loss of amenities. However, Charlton then subtracted five per cent of the total award, which she said had represented “disability benefits” previously received by Scott.
Scott contested this amount awarded for general damages on the basis that the allocation was “inordinately low,” arguing that the assistant registrar did not consider his additional claims to be a part of the head injury and paraplegia he suffered as a result of the beating.
He further contended that the assistant registrar should not have deducted the five per cent from his total award.
The appellate court, in its judgment, ruled, “the appellant’s inability to control his bladder and bowel is as a result of paraplegia, in as much as there was no evidence to suggest that this lack of control was because of direct injury to these organs.
“In essence, the appellant’s inability is as a result of the loss of sensation caused by the paraplegia. In the premises, the appellant cannot be said to have paraplegia simpliciter, and an increased award ought to have been given to acknowledge to attendant symptoms.
“Moreover, and notwithstanding the appellant’s claim that he was hit in the head with a police baton and suffers from recurring headaches, the award made by the learned assistant registrar failed to acknowledge the head injury and headaches and for this reason a separate award ($8,500) was warranted in recognition of the injury.”
While the appellate court did not rule the same regarding his claims of dizziness and pain in the left ear, the court did find that the five per cent deduction was unwarranted.
The court said there was no evidence to suggest that he received disability benefits, although the appellant did acknowledge receiving some assistance from National Insurance.
Whether the amount was properly categorised as disability benefits or monetary assistance, the learned registrar erred in making the deduction from the award, the court ruled.
David Higgins and Melissa Wright were the lawyers for the respondents while Mr Tynes and Ntshonda Tynes represented Scott in the appeal.