Top Cop to Pay $98, 000 in Damages

The Court of Appeal has maintained a High Court ruling against Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Michael Francios, who was ordered to pay a sum of $98, 000 to Ryan Richards following a motor vehicle accident almost a decade ago.

ACP Michael Francois – lost his appeal in the road accident case

The 34-year-old man was struck by a motor vehicle on January 18, 2008, driven by ACP Francios, as he alighted from his omnibus, which was parked on the right side of the Westerhall/Petite Bacaye main road.

Female high court judge, Justice Madam Justice Margaret Mohammed ordered the top cop to pay the money for pain and suffering to the victim as well as in general damages and loss of amenities.

ACP Francios was at the time of the accident a Superintendent of Police and the person in charge of the Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF),

THE NEW TODAY understands that Richards, who worked as a Bus Driver plying the St. George’s/St. David/Grenville route, was struck by the vehicle as he attempted to cross over to the left side of the road to purchase barbeque.

He sustained injuries to his left arm, leg and shoulders and was hospitalised for 14 weeks before being discharged.

Doctors concluded that Richards will suffer permanent scars to those parts of his body that sustained injuries and that he would not be able to run again or lift loads heavier than 30 pounds.

He took legal action against ACP Francios to recover damages for personal injuries resulting from the alleged negligence of the high-ranking police officer on the grounds that he was driving fast and failed to exercise due care and attention on the road.

ACP Francios denied negligence on his part contending that it was Richards who was negligent by attempting to cross the road at a time when it was not safe to do so.

On November 7, 2013, Justice Mohammed, in a written judgment found that there was indeed negligence on the part of ACP Francois and that he had breached his duty of care to drive at a speed that was safe in the circumstances and to manage his vehicle so as to avoid the collision.

The female judge found that ACP Francios was driving in excess of the speed limit of 30-35 miles per hour, was speeding at the time of the accident and also concluded that Richards too should have exercised greater care in crossing the road as he would have seen the approaching vehicle.

Justice Mohammed held that the victim should also bear some responsibility for the accident since his actions amounted to recklessly descending from his bus in almost the middle of the road.

The female judge ruled that both Richards and ACP Francios contributed to the accident and are both liable for it.

She made an award of $862.90 to the victim for special damages, general damages of $80, 000 for pain and suffering and $60, 000 for loss of amenities.

She ordered the senior police officer to pay 70% of the amounts as awarded by the court.

Dissatisfied with the decision, ACP Francios appealed in December 2013, on grounds that the trial judge erred in finding that the accident was caused by his negligence and that she erred in the apportionment of liability.

Richards cross appealed against the decision of the trial judge, contending that Francios should be held 100% liable for the accident and that the award for general damages should be increased.

Both appeals were dismissed by Justices of Appeal, Mde. Louise Esther Blenman, Mario Michel, Mde. Gertel Thom, last week Friday (June 1), as they upheld the High Court ruling.

ACP Francois was represented by Attorney-at-law, Alban John while Richard’s interest was looked after by Attorneys Cathisha Williams and Hazel Hopkin from the Law Firm of Derrick Sylvester & Associates on Lucas Street, St. George.

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