1.By a Plaint dated 6th July 2020 and filed on 13th July 2020 at the Kaloleni Magistrate’s Court, the Respondents sued the Appellants for general damages for loss of dependency and loss of expectation of life, pain and suffering, special damages at Kshs. 338, 400/- plus the costs of the suit and interest.
2.The Respondents, at paragraph 5 of the Plaint pleaded that on or about the 26th day of August 2019, At Kwa Randu area along Kaloleni-Mazeras Road, the 2nd Appellant, identified as the 1st Appellant’s authorized driver, negligently and carelessly managed, controlled or failed to control the Motor Vehicle Registration No. KCV 807C Toyota Axio, that he caused the same to lose control, veer off the road and knocked down Ishmael Mangi Yaa (the deceased) who was lawfully standing on the pavement as a pedestrian. As a result, the deceased sustained and succumbed to fatal injuries.
3.Under the Particulars pursuant to the Statute, the Respondents pleaded that the deceased was aged 31 and in good health. That he was employed with a total monthly earning of Kshs. 22,110/- and was the sole support for the Respondents and other two dependants. The Respondents pleaded that the deceased’s expectation of life was considerably shortened and that his estate suffered loss and damages. The Respondents added that the deceased underwent excruciating pain from the injuries sustained to which he succumbed later.
4.The Appellants filed their Memorandum of Appearance and joint Statement of Defence dated 24th August, 2021. The Appellants denied the Respondents’ averments made in the Plaint. They averred that if at all an accident occurred on the material date, which they denied, the same was either solely caused by and/or majorly contributed to by the negligence of the deceased. They urged the trial court to dismiss the claim with costs.
5.The trial court, after hearing the matter entered judgment on 21st September 2022 in favour of the Respondents in the following terms;
6.The said judgment is the subject of the present appeal. The Appellants cited the following grounds in their memorandum of appeal dated 18th October 2022; -The Appellants urged the court to allow the appeal; set aside the judgment of the trial court; assess general damages for loss of dependency; and condemn the Respondents to costs of the appeal.a.The learned trial magistrate applied wrong principles in determining an award payable to the Respondent under the loss of dependency.b.The learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact in awarding the respondent general damages for loss of dependency Kshs. 4, 245, 120/- which is inordinately high.
7.Cellinar Pendo Mkare –PW1 adopted her written statement dated 6th July 2020 as evidence in chief. She produced in court documents contained in the list of documents dated 6th July 2020; supplementary list of documents dated 5th March 2021; and a further list of documents dated 1st October 2021. She told the court on cross-examination that she was the deceased’s wife and that they had one child. She stated that she did not witness the accident but was informed that the deceased was pronounced dead upon arriving at Coast General Hospital on the date of the accident. PW1 stated that at the time of his death, the deceased was aged 31 and worked as a plant operator at Rhino Cement. That the deceased worked as a casual and was paid on a weekly basis with a total monthly income of Kshs. 22, 110/-.
8.Ephraim Gaitho Gitonguri- PW2 testified that he was a human resource manager by profession and that the deceased was employed as an excavator at his former place of work, Athi River Mining Cement. He told the court that the deceased was earning Kshs. 737/- per day, an equivalent of Kshs. 22,000/- per month.
9.Police Constable John Mbugua- PW3 of Rabai Police Station testified that on 26th August 2019 at around 2130 hours, he attended a scene of accident at Kwa Randu area along Kaloleni- Mazeras Road. The accident involved motor vehicle registration no. KCV 807C, Toyota Axio being driven by Davis Mwabili, and the deceased, a pedestrian walking along the road. PW3 explained that the motor vehicle was from Kaloleni headed to Mazeras, and on reaching the accident location, the said vehicle overtook another unknown vehicle, and in the process veered off the road and hit the deceased who was also walking towards Mazeras. The witness testified that the location was on a sharp corner and with a continuous yellow line. The said deceased sustained fatal injuries and died on the spot. The 2nd Appellant was later charged with the offence of dangerous driving where he was found guilty and fined Kshs. 30,000/- or serve 1 year imprisonment in default.
10.The above testimony marked the close of the Respondents’ case at the trial court. Notably, the defence case was also closed without calling any witnesses.
11.The appeal was canvassed by way of written submissions summarized as hereunder;
The Appellants’ Submissions
12.Regarding the first ground of appeal, counsel for the Appellants submitted that the trial magistrate erred in adopting the gross pay of Kshs. 22,200/- as the multiplicand for general damages for loss of dependency, yet the evidence on record showed that that amount was not subjected to the requisite statutory deductions to wit, PAYE, NHIF and NSSF. To counsel, the court ought to have applied the sum of Kshs. 18, 962/- being the net pay. To buttress this point, counsel relied on the cases of Hellen Waruguru Waweru suing as the legal representative of Peter Waweru Mwenja (deceased) v Kiarie Shoe Stores Limited  eKLR; and D.K.M suing as the legal representative to the Estate of J.M.M (deceased) v Mehari K. Towolde  eKLR.
13.On the second ground of appeal, it was submitted that since the Respondents failed to prove any damage suffered by the persons listed as dependants other than the deceased’s wife and child, the trial court erred in making an estimation of how much the deceased contributed to the family. To the Appellants, the trial court therefore ought to have used a dependency ration of 1/3 as opposed to 2/3. Similarly, counsel relied on the case of D.K.M suing as the legal representative to the Estate of J.M.M (deceased) v Mehari K. Towolde [supra].
14.Counsel added that since the deceased was employed on a casual basis in a processing plant and given the vagaries and uncertainties of life, he would have worked for a period less than 20 years. In the ultimate, counsel urged the court to adopt the multiplicand of Kshs. 18, 962/-; a dependency ratio of 1/3 and a multiplier of 20 years; and replace the trial court’s award for loss of dependency with Kshs. 1,516, 960/-.
The Respondents’ Submissions
15.Counsel for the Respondent submitted that according to the Respondents’ evidence before the trial court, the correct legal determination of the deceased’s salary was the government regulation of wages. He argued that a plant operator was entitled to a gross monthly salary of Kshs. 25, 804.20/-; and Kshs. 22,656.2 after statutory deductions.
16.On whether the dependency ration of 2/3 was just, counsel relied on the case of Gordon Ouma Sunda and anor v Adan Abdikadir Omar and another  eKLR.
17.Finally, on whether this court should apply a 20 years multiplier, counsel cited the case of Board of Governors of Kangubiri Girls High School and another v Jane Wanjiku and another  eKLR where the court held that the choice of a multiplier is a matter of court’s discretion which discretion must be exercised judiciously with reason. To counsel, the multiplier adopted by the trial court in this case was fair given the reasons stated in the impugned judgment. For the above reasons, counsel urged the court to find the appeal unmerited and dismiss the same with costs.
18.Having considered the record of appeal, submissions and authorities cited by the parties herein, I find that the following issues for determination arise;
Analysis and Determination
19.From the above, it is clear that the Appellants are only challenging the trial court’s award on quantum of general damages for loss of dependency. On matters appeal on quantum, the parameters under which an appellate court will interfere with an award in general damages were well set out in the case of Bashir Ahmed Butt –v- Uwais Ahmed Khan (1982-88) KAR as follows; -What is being faulted in this appeal is the award on loss of dependency. The Court of Appeal in Chunibhai J. Patel and Another -v-P. F. Hayes and Others  EA 748, 749, stated the assessment principles as follows; -
20.One of the issues raised by the Appellants herein was that the monthly salary amount applied by the trial court was not the net salary of the deceased as is required. A perusal of the document identified as a note from the deceased’s employer indicating his pay rate and monthly income, shows clearly that the deceased received monthly payments of Kshs. 22,110/- calculated at a daily rate of Kshs. 737/-. PW2 testified and produced a confirmation letter dated 21st September 2021 showing the deceased’s nature of work as at the time of his death. The letter also shows that the deceased earned a gross daily rate of Kshs. 737/- equivalent to Kshs. 22, 110/- per month. In his testimony, PW2 confirmed that statutory deductions were paid and that the aforementioned amount as stated did not include deductions. My understanding is that the amount Kshs. 22,110/- was the deceased’s take home or net income a fact confirmed by none other than his employers. In the circumstances, I cannot fault the trial court for relying on that multiplicand.
21.In any event, it is not in dispute that the deceased was an excavator/plant operator. According to Government Regulation of wages guidelines, the deceased was a Grade III artisan whose monthly salary is Kshs. 25 804.20 and a statutory deduction of Kshs. 3,148 would leave him with a net of Kshs. 22,656.2 which is actually more than the multiplicand applied by the trial court.
22.The Appellants also argued that the trial magistrate was wrong in adopting a dependency ratio of 2/3 without any proof of dependency. The Appellants’ contention was that there was no proof of dependency on the part of the other persons listed as dependants, being the deceased’s parents. It was however not disputed that the deceased was survived by one wife and one child aged two years at the time the suit was filed.
23.It is trite that the extent of dependency is a question of fact as held by Ringera J. (as he then was) in Leonard Ekisa & Another –v- Major Birgen  eKLR where the learned Judge stated; -
24.The onus was on the Respondents to prove that the parents were indeed dependent on the deceased and the extent of loss they suffered. There was however no such proof. It was undisputed that the deceased was married and had one child, a minor, aged 2 years at the time of his demise. In the case of Hillary Tom Mboya v Jane Wangechi Njihia & another  eKLR Sergon J. while adopting the trial court’s assessment in a case where the deceased was survived by a wife and a child aged 10 years, observed as follows; -
25.In the present case, the trial court took into account the uncertainties of life and reasonably made a reduction of five (5) years on the public sector retirement age of 60 so that the multiplier of 24 years was used in the computation. The trial court also relied on a ratio of 2/3 since the deceased was supporting his family. The application of a dependency ratio of 2/3 for the deceased family, being the widow and minor child who had a long life ahead of him, was in the circumstances of the case, reasonable. I find no basis upon which to disturb the findings on dependency.
26.With the result that for reasons above stated the appeal herein lacks merit and is dismissed with costs to the Respondent.