In the wake of the ruling delivered by Justice Sonia Richards earlier this month, an Opposition MP today lambasted Government over its failure to enter a defence in the Arch Cot lawsuit brought on behalf of the victims of the 2007 tragedy.
Warning that this failure was likely to cost the country millions, Symmonds said it was the latest example of the Freundel Stuart administration’s lacklustre approach to governance.
In her ruling, Justice Richards gave the ten claimants liberty to enter judgment against Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite for damages and costs to be agreed upon. This, after no defence was filed by Brathwaite, against whom the suit was filed as a representative of the Town & Country Planning Department.
Other defendants in the 2014 multi-million dollar lawsuit, filed by attorney-at-law David Comissiong on December 12, 2014, were attorney Lemuel Rawlins, who was responsible for building the apartment building; Dr Jerry Emtage; and Mahy Ridley Hazzard Engineers Ltd.
Comissiong, along with his colleague Kristin Turton, had filed for unspecified damages for bereavement, funeral expenses, guidance, care and companionship.
While parents and siblings of the adult victims Donavere and Cassandra Codrington were involved in the suit, the action was also taken on behalf of the three surviving children – Doniya, Doniko and Zavier – after the Codrington couple and three of their children died when their Brittons Hill, St Michael apartment collapsed.
Speaking during the final day of parliamentary debate on the 2016/2017 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue, Symmonds contended that the likely payout by Government could have been avoided.
“The concerns that we have is that there is no room for the State to have to pay out more money now because a defence was not filed in the Arch Cot matter,” the St James Central representative told the House.
“Not that the jurisprudence was strong, and that is what won the matter at Arch Cot, but that the country is faced with a situation where with jurisprudence that has not been mitigated at all, a decision is made because no defence has been entered in a matter of substantial import where one would have expected better to be done,” Symmonds lamented.
“We do not feel comfortable with a state of affairs in which lethargy is treated as acceptable,” he added. (RB)