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Fiji Court awards payout against Rabi Council of Leaders

FIJI TIMES ONLINE Avinesh Gopal Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A SOLDIER who suffered injuries when the truck he was travelling in on an official duty ran over his leg has been awarded about $94,000 in damages by the High Court in Suva.

Sevania Naulumatua Rayawa had filed a civil case against Tabontora Mote, a driver for the Rabi Council of Leaders, the Rabi Council of Leaders and the South Pacific Organising Committee, which was under the Fiji Amateur Sports and National Olympics Committee.

Mr Rayawa was represented by Suva lawyer, Diven Prasad while the Rabi Council of Leaders was absent and unrepresented during the hearing of the civil claim in the High Court on April 26.

He claimed damages from the Rabi Council of Leaders in respect of an accident that happened on June 2, 2003 on Rabi Island.

The court entered judgment against Mr Mote and SPOC by default. The judgment was delivered last Friday.

Mr Rayawa was on official duty on June 2, 2003 with the SPOC for the torch relay on Rabi Island for the 2003 South Pacific Games when the accident happened.

He was travelling in a truck owned by the council and driven by Mr Mote.

The truck went downhill when Mr Mote changed gear and as a result, Mr Rayawa was thrown out of the truck while preventing children from falling over and the truck ran over his leg.

Judge Justice Ariam Brito - Mutunayagam said he was satisfied on the evidence that Mr Mote was negligent.

He said accordingly, the Rabi Council of Leaders was vicariously liable for Mr Mote's negligence and the failure to have a back tray and safety belts fitted in the truck.

Also, he said Mr Rayawa was assessed to have a partial permanent disability of 35 per cent, saying he was entitled to damages for pain and suffering.

Mr Rayawa was bedridden for two years because of the accident, he was in a wheelchair for 18 months, is unable to play sports and has a scar on his right leg.

Justice Mutunayagam said, "It is unfortunate he is unable to wear his military uniform."

"With respect to loss of amenities, damages must also compensate the plaintiff for no longer being able to do the things he was accustomed to do," he said.

Mr Rayawa asserted that he had been a captain for 16 years and that it was not normal to be in this position for such a long period.

He was confirmed a captain in 2003 and promoted to the rank of Major in 2010.

Justice Mutunayagam awarded Mr Rayawa $50,000 as general damages, $23,700 interest on general damages, $10 special damages, $2.37 interest on special damages and $20,280 as cost of domestic care, all to be paid by the Rabi Council of Leaders.

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Comment by Takesau Tabore on October 27, 2011 at 9:27am
Another point to remember is that the roads on rabi is a private one and the Fiji courts have no jurisdiction whatsoever . A case in point was the death of Teibeanibure by Tokarei in the 80's where the diseased family  members filed a lawsuit in the Fiji Courts but it got chucked out with the judge declaring that Rabi road is private road and it had no jurisdiction over it. Now this new Sri Lankan judge is saying otherwise . Can RCL clarify this issue once and for all so that our future on such cases is clear cut.
Comment by Takesau Tabore on October 25, 2011 at 11:03am
I think this case reeks of calculated manipulation to rob RCL of much needed funds. In the first instance no one invited the olympic flame team to Rabi. Secondly the injured runner jumped of the RCL truck out of his own free choice (thinking the truck will tumble) and he was the only one injured. Therefore compensation should be given by the  international olympic committee , the fiji olympic committee  or whoever the smart asses that  initiated that Run but I do agree that the runner SHOULD get the compensation but not from RCL. Now its up to RCL thru ED and Chairman to find a suitable lawyer and contest the ruling thru the Court of Appeal in favour of RCL and the Banaban Community.

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