Appeal Court sends back slip-and-fall lawsuit to judge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Appeal Court judge Alice Yorke-Soo Hon. –

THE COURT of Appeal has sent back a claim and counter-claim arising out of an insurance consultant’s lawsuit for compensation for injuries she allegedly sustained when she slipped and fell on a wet floor at Guardian Life of the Caribbean Ltd’s building in Port of Spain to the High Court.

In a ruling on Monday, Justices Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Gregory Smith said there were “live issues” to be determined at trial. These issues Smith said surrounded the question of contributory negligence and occupier’s liability.

Smith delivered the unanimous ruling and also held that the trial judge, Justice Margaret Mohammed, did not have the jurisdiction to make the workmen’s compensation order.

The insurance consultant, Primilla Dial-Seepaul, was ordered to repay over half a million she received in workmen’s compensation after the fall.

Her claim against Guardian Life was also dismissed by Mohammed who held that Dial-Seepaul, having not filed a defence to Guardian Life’s counter-claim, was deemed to have admitted that Guardian Life was not liable for any of her loss, damage or injury.

Dial-Seepaul’s claim against the company for negligence was also struck out since she admitted she was not their employee. It was also argued by Guardian Life that any duty owed to her fell on her employer –PGM Financial Services – which occupied the floor of the Guardian Life building in Port of Spain where she slipped.

In its counter-claim, Guardian Life also argued that Dial-Seepaul had a duty to take reasonable care to protect her own safety while challenging the extent of the damages she claimed she sustained in the fall.

In February, two Appeal Court judges rejected an application by Guardian Life to reject Dial-Seepaul’s procedural appeal because her attorneys missed a deadline for filing submissions.

In sending the matter back to Mohammed for determination, Smith said while the judge made an error, she has case-managed the matter so was best suited to deal with it.

“We all have (made mistakes) and we come back stronger than before.”

Dial-Seepaul was represented by attorney Eduardo Martinez while Guardian Life was represented by Martin Daly, SC.