— As Civil Law Court schedules judgment, will Judge Dunbar change his mind?
At long last, the final ruling into a US$1.5 million in damages brought by Edward Freeman, an employee of Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank), against the bank and its former managing Director Ayodeji Bejide, a Nigerian national, is scheduled for hearing on Friday, May 29, at the Civil Law Court ‘B’ at the Temple of Justice.
It may be recalled that on August 28, 2018, Freeman shared a video on Facebook where he was bleeding from his lips in Bejide’s office after Bejide reportedly hit him with a calculator.
The video went viral, prompting officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to arrest Bejide. Bejide was subsequently charged with aggravated assault and forwarded to the Monrovia City Court for prosecution. Later, the court released Bejide shortly after he (Bejide) lawyers claimed to have filed a US$50,000 bail in order to seek medical attention in Nigeria. Up to present Bejide has not returned, prompting Freeman’s legal team to file a damage lawsuit against Bejide’s employer, the GT Bank.
Initially, the bank contested against the inclusion of its name in the lawsuit.
The bank argued that Freeman’s accusation that the bank was a party to the defendant was without any iota of truth because it was a mere allegation.
“This is a settled principle of law that every allegation must be supported by proof, and that mere allegation is not sufficient to hold a party liable,” the bank then argued.
The bank contended that the belief that it was a party was mere speculation, assumption, and unfounded in law.
They also argued that if it had authorized the act of the defendant, it should have been investigated by the LNP officers and brought under the jurisdiction of the Monrovia City Court, “which is a clear indication that it did not authorize the alleged act of the defendant,” according to the bank by then.
To the bank’s utmost surprise, Judge Dunbar ignored that argument and subsequently demanded that the bank should be tried in the absence of its Managing Director Bejide. Dunbar added that the bank was liable for damages for the injury Freeman sustained. “As such, the bank is an indispensable party as a defendant in this case.”
“There is no way the bank can argue that it is not vicariously liable for the injury inflicted on Freeman by its then Managing Director, Bejide,” the Judge by then ruled.
Shortly afterward, Judge Dunbar ruled the case to trial with the bank becoming the lone defendant. It was the bank that employed defendant Bejide and subsequently brought him to Liberia to serve as its Managing Director, which ruling Dunbar has scheduled to deliver on Friday, May 29.
Back then he said, “The wrongful conduct of assault on Freeman was carried out by Bejide on the bank’s premises during normal working hours and in the ordinary and normal cause of duty.”
Now, after Judge Dunbar had sat for days and listened attentively to both the bank’s and Freeman’s lawyers presenting their respective sides to the matter, what Judge Dunbar’s ruling would be considering his previous ruling remains unclear and at best speculative.