Woman sues passport office for $21k over chair collapse


Tribune News Editor


A WOMAN is seeking more than $20,000 in special damages and other awards after a Passport Office chair she sat in collapsed in 2018.

Lakeisha Pinder claimed in her writ that she suffered significant personal injuries, loss and damage because of the accident.

While waiting for the matter to be heard and resolved, she filed an application seeking an interim payment of $21,959.57.

She supported her request by claiming that she would not only succeed at trial but that damages would not be substantially reduced when the government is found at fault.

The defendants, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Attorney General, filed Siobhan Dean and Andreae Francis’ affidavits on January 20, 2023.

Although they did not witness the incident, they said the chairs were checked regularly daily and showed no defects.

Mr Francis said he was informed that when Ms Pinder sat in one of the chairs, “one of the legs separated, causing Ms Pinder to end up on the floor”.

The government denied liability, saying the duty of care was performed by ensuring the chair was safe before the accident.

“As such, they claim that the accident was mere happenstance and that there was no evidence that the chair was faulty,” Justice Neil Brathwaite wrote in his decision, released last week. “They further raise the issue of contributory negligence and intimate that the plaintiff may have in some way contributed to the accident.”

 Ultimately, the judge denied the plaintiff’s request for an interim payment.

 He said that to grant interim payment, the court must be satisfied that the defendant has either admitted liability, that a judgment has been obtained for damages to be assessed, or that the plaintiff would succeed on the question of liability “without any substantial reduction in damages for fault on his part”.

 He concluded that a court may favour the defence, given its argument that the chairs were checked to ensure safety.

 “Given the high standard required to be met on an application for an interim payment where liability is still an issue, and bearing in mind that this application is not a trial of the matter with full consideration of tested evidence that a trial entails, I am unable to conclude that the plaintiff ‘would’ be successful at trial,” he wrote.

 He ordered that each side bear their own costs.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.