1.The appeal subject of this judgment is only against the quantum of damages. It arose from the judgment and decree in Kapenguria Senior Principal Magistrate’s Court Civil Case No. 27 of 2019 HKK (Minor suing through next friend and father CKK) (hereinafter referred to as ‘the suit’) which was delivered on 19th May, 2021.
2.Liability was agreed at 15%: 85% in favour of the Appellant in this appeal, HKK (Minor suing through next friend and father CKK), who was the Plaintiff in the suit.
3.Various exhibits were admitted by the consent of the parties and written submissions were subsequently filed.
4.The trial Court in its judgment rendered itself as follows: -a.Liability 85%b.General damages Kshs. 500,000/=;c.Special damages Kshs. 6,000/=Total Kshs. 506,000/=Less 15% contributory negligence the net comes to Kshs. 430,000/=
5.Being dissatisfied with the above decision, the Appellant herein, preferred an appeal vide a Memorandum of Appeal dated and evenly filed on 11th June, 2021.
6.The Appellant mainly contended that the trial Court erred in failing to consider the evidence adduced. As a result, he opined that the trial Court arrived at a grossly low award on general damages and wrongly dismissed the claim for future medical expenses which it was claimed had been properly pleaded and proved.
7.The Appellant then prayed that this Court re-assesses the award on general damages and to also allow the claim on future medical expenses. He also sought for the costs of the appeal.
8.The Respondent opposed the appeal. It stood with the finding of the trial Court.
9.Parties canvassed the appeal by way of written submissions. They buttressed their rival positions and referred to some decisions in persuading this Court to find in each other’s favour.
10.The Court has carefully considered the appeal in toto. It has read and understood the gist of the appeal, the pleadings, the proceedings, the impugned judgment, the submissions and the judicial authorities referred to by the parties.
11.As the appeal is on quantum of damages, this Court reiterates that assessment of damages is generally a difficult task. A Court is supposed to give a reasonable award which is neither extravagant nor oppressive while being guided by factors including previous awards for similar injuries and the principles as developed by the Courts. However, what constitutes a reasonable award is an exercise of discretion and will depend on the peculiar facts of each case and an appellate Court must be slow to interfere with such an exercise of discretion. (See Butler vs. Butler (1982) KLR 277.)
12.The Court of Appeal in Kemfro Africa Ltd v A. M. Lubia & Another (1988)1 KAR 727 discussed the principles to be observed when an appellate Court is dealing with an appeal on assessment of damages. The Court expressed itself clearly thus: -
14.Having laid down the law guiding the determination of this appeal, this Court will now deal with the twin issues raised by the Appellant.
15.On the issue of the award on general damages at Kshs. 500,000/=, this Court cannot find fault on it.
16.The trial Court considered the matter as a whole and arrived at its decision. It noted the injuries suffered by the Appellant and as captured in the exhibits produced. It also considered the decisions relied upon by the parties and demonstrated its concurrence or otherwise with the said decisions.
17.As the Appellant challenged the exercise of the Court’s discretion, he had to prove that ‘…. the Magistrate, in assessing the damages took into account an irrelevant factor, or left out of account a relevant one, or that; short of this, the amount is so inordinately low or so inordinately high that it must be a wholly erroneous estimate of the damage….’
18.Whereas the Appellant contended that the award on general damages was inordinately low, that seems not to be case. The Appellant did not sustain any fracture and fairly recovered save for the issue of future treatment.
19.Having said so, this Court finds no fault on the assessment of the general damages by the trial Court. Therefore, the appeal on this limb fails.
20.The next issue is the rejection of the claim on future medical expenses at trial.
21.The basis of the trial Court’s refusal to award the claim was that it was not pleaded. That position seems not to be in tandem with the pleadings. Whereas the Appellant did not make any reference to future treatment expenses in the original Plaint filed, he, nevertheless, amended the Plaint and added paragraph 7A which reads as follows: -
22.Since the aspect of future medical expenses was properly pleaded, then this Court is duty bound to ascertain if the claim ought to have been allowed.
23.Courts have settled the award of future medical expenses. In general, future medical expenses are regarded as special damages within the larger rubric of general damages. As such, the expenses must be specifically pleaded and proved to justify any award.
25.Drawing from the above, it is of paramount importance that a Plaintiff must specifically plead for the award of future medical expenses in the pleadings. The same need not be specifically captured in terms of the exact costing, but there must, at least be, an approximate amount pleaded and evidence led.
26.In this matter, the need for future medical intervention on the Appellant was severally affirmed. The P3 Form noted a cerebral injury in the nature of diffuse axonal injury. The Discharge Summary from Mediheal Hospital which was produced as Plaintiff’s Exhibit 5b also referred to the injury and noted that although there was an improvement on the healing process, the injury had caused certain behavioral changes. That was on 15th July, 2019 when the Appellant was discharged from hospital.
27.The Appellant was later examined by Dr. Joseph C. Sokobe on 2nd September, 2019. The Doctor also confirmed the injury and formed an opinion that the Appellant had ‘…developed post traumatic stress syndrome from which he requires future treatment at an estimated cost of Kshs. 200,000….’
28.All the Appellant’s exhibits were produced by the consent of the parties. There was no challenge to the contents of any of the medical exhibits including the report by Dr. Sokobe.
29.If the Respondent was still doubtful as to whether there was need for future treatment on the Appellant, then it ought to have objected to the production of the medical report by the witness. In doing so, the Doctor would have attended Court and the Respondent would have accordingly examined him on the veracity of the contents of the report.
30.Whereas this Court is alive to the legal position that production of an exhibit is not ipso facto proof of its contents and that in some instances evidence ought to issue to ascertain the document’s overall probative value, the position in this case needed no further proof since the basis of the future treatment costs was well demonstrated in the P3 Form, the Discharge Summary and the Medical Report.
32.As said, the need for and the cost of the future medical treatment were well pleaded and proved in this matter. In such a case, the claim ought to have been granted.
33.It is on the basis of the above that this Court finds that the Learned trial Magistrate, with tremendous respect, erred in disallowing the claim.
34.The upshot is that the appeal on this limb succeeds.
35.In this appeal, whereas the Appellant was not successful in overturning the award on general damages, he triumphed on the award on future medical expenses.
36.In the end, the final determination of the appeal is as follows: -a.Liability is apportioned at the ratio of 15%: 85% in favour of the Appellant as against the Respondent.b.General damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenities awarded in the sum of Kshs. 500,000/=.c.Special damages awarded at Kshs. 6,000/=.d.Future Medical expenses awarded at Kshs. 200,000/=.e.The Appellant shall have the costs of the suit and the appeal together with interest at Court rates.f.For avoidance of doubt, the sums awarded are subject to the liability apportionment.Orders accordingly.