The jury at the Civil Law Court ‘B’ yesterday returned a unanimous guilty verdict against Mutual Benefits Assurance and subsequently asked the company to pay US$15,200 and L$9,500 for its refusal to take responsibility for an accident that involved the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), one of its insurers.
Yesterday’s verdict also asked Judge Scheaplor Dunbar to compel authorities of the LDEA, whose vehicles damaged a White Nissan Primera Station Wagon valued at US$5,200 and which belonged to one Joyce Nundo, to share in the payment of the US$15,200 and L$9,500.
Initially, Nundo’s lawyer Jonathan Massaquoi, sought the court’s approval for the defendants (LDEA and Mutual Benefits) to pay US$5,200 as the value of her car and L$9,500 as medical bills that she paid for four passengers who sustained injuries as a result of the accident and US$250,000 as compensation for the injuries and hardship brought against her family.
The jury chose to accept US$5,200 as the value of the car and L$9,500 for the medical bill but reduced US$ 250,000 to US$10,000, which resulted to a total of US$15,200 and L$9,500.
Judge Dunbar has up to five days to decide whether or not the LDEA must share the money if it is paid, according to the verdict.
The accident occurred on May 25, 2017, in the Bernard Farm Community, Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
Before the jury’s verdict, LDEA lead lawyer Gartor Tate admitted that they were in the wrong and argued that any money judgment against them should be the responsibility of Mutual Benefits Assurance because the company was their insurer.
“LDEA holds a valid third party insurance policy from Mutual Benefits and as such, all deaths, body injuries, damaged to the property of any person caused by the use of the insured vehicles should be covered by its insurer and not us,” Cllr. Tate said of the insurance company.
Mutual Benefits Assurance’s lawyer Amos Bartu, in counter-argument, said they do not have sufficient knowledge or information to deny or confirm that the accident occurred.
Cllr. Bartu argued that when the incident occurred, the LDEA informed them that their driver was not responsible for the alleged accident. “Since the LDEA agreed that they are in the wrong let them pay for the damages and not us as the insurer,” Bartu further argued.
Bartu said though under its third-party insurance policy they are obligated to honor the claim of liability, “in this case, the insured (LDEA) wrote us that their driver was not in the wrong and so we are not responsible for the accident.
“The LDEA’s change of mind is a complete contradiction and it is a case of collusion and fraud, so we cannot accept and we would not accept to be a part of this matter,” Bartu argued.
Cllr. Massaquoi in his argument said LDEA and the insurance company were solely responsible to fully settle all liabilities for their “reckless driving,” which had meted out extreme hardship, mental anguish, and injustice on Madam Nundo.