The Barbados High Court has “thrown out” a case in which a policeman sued the Attorney General and one of his own fellow officers in connection with an incident that occurred at the residence of former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons five years ago.
The decision was handed down only last month by Madam Justice Maureen Crane-Scott, in the matter where police officer Keithley Boyce instituted proceedings for negligence against the Attorney General and officer Carlos Hall.
Boyce claimed damages for personal injuries and consequential losses, which he allegedly suffered as a result of the incident on July 19, 2005, while he and Hall were carrying out crime prevention duties at Neil’s Plantation, the residence of Sir David.
Officer Boyce alleged that his injuries were caused by the negligence of his colleague in the conduct of his duties as a police officer and/or by the negligence of the Attorney General, his servants or agents, in failing to ensure that the police vehicle MP413, used by his employees, was properly maintained and safe for use.
In outlining the specifics of the alleged negligence on the part of officer Hall, Boyce claimed that his partner caused or allowed the vehicle to roll backwards; failed to warn him that the handbrake was not, or not properly engaged; parked the vehicle on an incline; failed to check and ensure that the handbrake was engaged before getting out of the police vehicle; [drove or caused] the vehicle to be driven with a defective handbrake; and failed to take all reasonable care in the circumstances.
The details of the civil suit against the Attorney General claimed a failure to institute or enforce any or any adequate system for the inspection and maintenance of the vehicle, whereby the existence of a defect in the handbrake system might have been detected and remedied before the accident, and causing or permitting the vehicle to be used upon the road when the handbrake system was in a defective condition.
Justice Crane-Scott also referred to the counterclaims of negligence on the part of officer Hall.
The Attorney General and Hall alleged that Boyce, unknown to them, but through his own actions, let down the handbrake and engaged the neutral gear; that, not being the authorized driver, caused the motor vehicle to roll backwards from its parked position and strike the sidewalk; operated outside the scope of his duties by carelessly and negligently attempting to stop a moving vehicle with his body; failed to take care, or to have any sufficient regard for his own safety while on duty; and failed to take any and/or sufficient steps to avoid the alleged injuries, loss or damage.
“The court has already found that motor vehicle MP413 rolled backwards at a slow speed on what was a very slight incline. The court is also satisfied that there was no person and no property immediately to the rear of the vehicle in danger of being struck as the coconut tree mentioned by the claimant, as well as the fruit trees referred to by the second defendant (Hall), were some distance away, and therefore separated from the path of the slow moving vehicle by a kerb or sidewalk and an expanse of law,” the judge said.
“The court accordingly finds that there was, in the circumstances, clearly no danger to any life or property (including MP413), which justified the claimant placing his body behind the slowly rolling vehicle and pushing to prevent it from going back. The court finds that a reasonable man, even taking into account the adrenalin rush and instinctive responses aroused by sudden and unexpected incidents of this nature, would not consider the claimant to have acted reasonably,” she declared.
“In the result, the claimant’s writ of summons filed on June 10, 2008, by which this action against the first and second defendants was instituted, is hereby dismissed with costs to the defendants to be agreed or assessed,” Justice Crane-Scott said in her decision. [email protected]