Brently Charles v Marcus Corridon
EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
SAINT VINCENT & THE GRENADINES
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
CLAIM NO. SVGHCV 2002/0506
BRENTLIE CHARLES AKA BRENTLEY CHARLES
Ms. Agnes Actie Master [Ag.]
Ms. Nicole Sylvester of counsel for the claimant
Mr. Samuel Commissiong of counsel for the defendant
2014: June 3;
Part Heard and on Written Submissions
 ACTIE, M. [AG.]: This is an assessment of damages for personal injuries as a
result of a motor vehicular accident.
 The claimant claims damages against the defendant for personal injuries
sustained when he was knocked down by a motor vehicle owned and driven by
the defendant on 13th June 1998.
 Bruce Lyle J entered judgment on liability on 29th October 2010 against the
defendant with damages to be assessed.
 The claimant was 21 years old at the time of the accident. The claimant sustained
a broken leg and was taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where he was
admitted and remained unconscious for three (3) days.
 The claimant’s injuries are outlined in several medical reports of Dr. De Freitas, Dr.
A Salian and Dr. Charles Woods. The gravity and resulting physical disability of
the claimant’s injuries is outlined in the reports of Dr. Charles Woods, a witness for
the claimant who provided evidence-in-chief and was also cross examined by the
defendant at the assessment hearing.
 Dr. Woods in his first report dated 12th March 2002 states that the claimant who
was unconscious on first admission on 13th June 1998, sustained multiple trauma
to his head and body, including a large laceration to the left leg with bony
deformity. X-rays revealed compound fractures of the left tibia and fibula. The
claimant underwent surgery for debridement of the compound fracture and was
subsequently taken to the intensive care unit where he remained for three days in
a semi-comatose state. Upon recovery of consciousness he was transferred to
the surgical ward and continued with traction to the leg. Open reduction and
plating of the tibia fracture was done on 25th June 1998 and the claimant was
discharged on 13th July 1998. The claimant developed swelling and drainage from
the wound site and was readmitted on 21st April 1999 for removal of the tibial
plate. The claimant continued to suffer swellings, discharge and formation of a
chronic ulcer of the left leg. X-Rays done in November 1999 showed osteomyelitic
changes in the tibia with a diagnosis of chronic osteomyelitis secondary to
 The claimant was admitted on several occasions for debridement of the leg.
Dr. Woods concluded that full recovery of the claimant’s leg was uncertain, and
would most probably be faced with further surgical procedures.
 Dr. Woods in his second report dated 16th July 2004, states that the ulcer
reopened on the anterio leg and proceeded to drain in a small amount of purulent
material subsequent to a procedure done on 18th September 2009. Dr Woods
concluded that the claimant had developed a relapse of his osteomyelitis and
would need further investigation and most likely a repeat sequestrectomy in the
very near furfure. Dr. Woods in his prognosis states:
”as with all cases of chronic osteomyelitis the prognosis for a cure is very
poor, and despite all surgical efforts it is very likely that Mr Charles will
have lifelong problems with chronic infection of his tibia as a result of the
injuries he sustained to the left limb. He will require multiple surgical
procedures in an attempt to resolve this situation”
 The legal principles governing the assessment of damages are well established in
the seminal case of Cornilliac v St. Louis1 where Sir Hugh Wooding, CJ listed
the main factors to be taken into account namely (i) the nature and extent of the
injuries sustained; (ii) the nature and gravity of the resulting physical disability; (iii)
the pain and suffering endured; (iv) the loss of amenities, if any; and (iv) the extent
to which pecuniary prospects are affected. General Damages are damages which
will be presumed to be a natural or probable consequence of the wrong
complained of; with the result that the claimant is required only to assert that such
has been suffered.
The nature and extent of the injuries sustained
 The claimant sustained multiple trauma to his head and body, including a large
laceration to the left leg with bony deformity was unconscious on admission to the
hospital. The claimant had compound fractures of the left tibia and fibula and
underwent surgery for debridement of the compound fracture. The claimant was
1 (1965) 7 WIR 491
subsequently taken to intensive care unit where he remained for three days in a
The nature and gravity of the resulting physical disability
 The claimant has been in continuous pain and discomfort since the accident.
Dr. Woods both in his reports and on examination-in-chief states that the claimant
regardless of further management will most likely have lifelong recurrent problems
with wound infection due to osteomyelitis of the left tibia. The claimant has been
readmitted on several occasions with a diagnosis of chronic osteomyelitis
secondary to infection with discharge of purulent smelling fluid.
The pain and suffering endured
 The claimant has been readmitted several times for surgical procedures for
recurrent problems with wound infection and osteomyelitis of the left tibia since the
The loss of amenities
 The claimant states that the accident has left him experiencing a change in
personality from vibrancy to despondency. The claimant complains of continuous
pain on a daily basis since the injuries 15 years ago. The wound has had to be
drained to remove small amounts of foul smelling fluids due to an infection. The
claimant was an outgoing community oriented person but has withdrawn
especially when the symptoms flare up and is a cause of severe social
embarrassment. The claimant who enjoyed swimming, playing football, cricket
and basketball is said to be deeply traumatized and suffers from Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder. The claimant’s ability to stand, walk for long periods, walk on
inclined surfaces or run has been greatly affected. The expert witness statement
of Asha Blucher states that the claimant is depressed and scarred both physically
and mentally as a result of the accident.
 Counsel for the parties relies on several authorities. The claimant seeks a global
award of $376,200.00 for pain and suffering and loss of amenities and also claims
special damages and loss of future earnings.
 In Sherma Mathurin V Rain Forest Sky Rides Ltd2- Georges J in 2010 awarded
the sum of $150,000.00 for pain and suffering and loss of amenities to a 28 year
old female who suffered a displaced intra-articular open fracture of the low end of
the right tibia with a fracture of the fibula due to freefalling 40ft a guide line to the
forest floor. The claimant underwent surgery for fixation of the plates and screws
along with bone drafting.
 In Patrick Morille v Paul Pierre et al3:- Cottle J made an award of $80,000.00 for
pain and suffering and loss of amenities to a claimant who had a broken tibia and
fibula with infection of the fracture requiring multiple and extensive surgical
interventions. The claimant remained in hospital for extended period of time
before being discharged.
 In Kendol Fredericks v Carlton Cunningham4:- Cottle J in 2009 made an
awarded of $150,000.00 to a claimant age 12 who suffered extensive and severe
injuries to his leg which was crushed by the defendants truck. The tibia was
fractured and exposed. The claimant underwent surgery. Post-surgery diagnosis
stated satisfactory range of the left knee and ankle, mild tenderness of the ankle,
and a high risk of precocious development of osteoarthritis of the knee and ankle.
 Counsel for the claimant states that the injuries and prognosis in the case at bar
are more severe than the authorities cited. Dr. Woods in his reports and on
examination-in-chief, states that the injuries of the claimants are lifelong requiring
continuous care. Under cross-examination Dr. Woods states that the resulting
2 SLUHCV 2008/0551 3rd August 2010.
3 SLUHCV1994/0596 delivered on 28th February 2008.
4 SVG HCV 2002/475 delivered on 21st July 2009.
decision may be amputation if the wound continues to breakdown as a result of
the infection. Counsel for the claimant in further submissions filed on 9th
December 2013 seeks a provisional award for the risk of amputation. Counsel
relies on the authority of Chewings v Williams & Anor5. I note that the court in
Chewings case had to determine whether the claimant had established on the
balance of probabilities that there was a more than fanciful chance that at some
definite or indefinite time in the future the claimant would suffer an amputation as a
result of his injury. This issue did not come for determination in the case at bar
rather Dr surmised amputation as a possibility if there is a continuous breakdown
in the wound as a result of the infection.
 An award of damages for pain and suffering is incapable of exact estimation and
an assessment must necessarily be a matter of degree based on the facts of each
case. Lord Hope of Craighead in Wells v Wells6 states:
“The amount of the award to be made for pain, suffering and loss of
amenity cannot be precisely calculated. All that can be done is to award
such sum within the broad criterion of what is reasonable and in line in
with similar awards in comparable cases as represents the Court’s basic
estimate of the plaintiff’s damage”.
 I have considered the authorities and I note in particular the authority of Kendol
Fredericks v Carlton Cunningham7 from this jurisdiction where Cottle J in 2009
made an awarded of $150,000.00 for pain and suffering and loss of amenities to a
claimant who at the age of 12 years suffered extensive and severe damages to his
left leg. The claimant in that case underwent two surgical procedures and spent
ten weeks in hospital. Kendol’s medical prognosis opined that there were only
localized signs of chronic infection of the wound exposing the underlying bone with
a possibility of the development of osteomyelitis. In the case at bar, Dr Woods in
his report dated 10th April 2001 states that the claimant needs the services of a
skilled plastic surgeon and would better served having these procedures done
5  EWHC 2490
6  3 All ER 481
7 SVG HCV 2002/475 delivered on 21st July 2009
overseas. The same procedure was recommended and performed in the kendol’s
 I accept that the claimant’s condition is more severe than the kendol’s case and
the other authorities cited. The evidence states that the claimant has been in
constant pain and suffering since the accident fifteen (15) years ago. The impact
of the accident left the claimant unconscious and he remained in an unconscious
state for three days. The claimant has been hospitalized several times since the
accident and has had several surgical procedures for debridement of the wound.
Dr. Woods both in his reports and in examination-in-chief was forthright and clear
in his diagnosis of the claimant. It is accepted that the claimant’s continuous pain
and suffering will be lifelong with the possibility of amputation if the infection
 The evidence indicates that the claimant’s quality of life has been severely
impacted by the injuries suffered as a result of the accident. The claimant, 21
years at the time of the accident, was in the prime of his life. He can no longer
enjoy swimming, playing football, cricket and basketball. The claimant is said to
be deeply traumatized and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result
of the accident. The evidence of Dr. Woods makes reference to possible future
medical expenses and procedures. I also take into consideration the rate of
inflation since the award made by Cottle J. in 2009 in the Kendol’s case. Having
regard to the severity of the injury, the recurrent and contemplated surgical
procedures required and bearing in mind the evidence of the continuous pain and
suffering for the past fifteen (15) years. I conclude that an award of $ 250,000.00
consisting of $150,000.00 for pain and suffering and $100.000.00 for loss of
amenities would meet the justice of this case.
Pecuniary Loss – Future loss of earnings
 The claimant was 21 years old at the time of the accident. The claimant states
that since the accident he is unable to continue enjoy his congenial employment
as a farmer. He states that the accident has made his life financially difficult as he
has lost his capacity to earn and support his three dependent children
 It is the claimant’s contention that he earned $650.00 a month prior to the accident. The
defendant objects to the claimant’s assertions in the absence of evidence. The defendant
avers that the claimant in his statement of claim states that he was a painter but has since
changed his occupation to farmer. I note that amount claimed is unsubstantiated.
However, I accept the injuries of claimant’s have severely impacted his earning capacity
whether as a painter or a farmer. I also take into consideration that it has been over 15
years since the injuries. The nature of the claimant’s injuries would not allow him to
continue his profession as a painter since the evidence indicates that he cannot stand for
an extended period. The change to a more sedentary life of a farmer is not farfetched.
 Pecuniary loss generally forms the principal head of damage in personal injury
actions. It consists primarily of pre-trial earnings and prospective loss of earnings
commonly called loss of future earnings. As McGregor on Damages 18th
“the function of the pecuniary heads of loss is to ensure that the claimant
recovers, subject to the rules of remoteness and mitigation, full
compensation for the loss that he has suffered”. The general method of
assessment is the well-known multiplier/multiplicand method applied by
taking the amount which the claimant has been prevented by injury from
earning in the future (multiplicand) and multiplying it by the number of
years during which he was expected to earn it (multiplier). To reach a
figure for the award of a lump sum, the normal method of assessment
which is used by the courts, is first to calculate, as accurately as possible,
the net annual loss suffered, which is usually based on an average of the
claimant’s pre-accident “take-home” pay. This is to be used as the
 In the absence of evidence to substantiate the claimant’s assertion I would
proposes a nominal amount of $500 per month giving a multiplicand of $6000.00
with a multiplier of 15. Accordingly an award in the sum of $90,000.00 is made for
future loss of earnings.
8 At paragraph 35-056.
 It is a well-established principle that special damages must be pleaded and
proved; see British Transport v Gourley9 and Heerallal v Hack Brothers
(Construction) Ltd10. The claimant claims for loss of earnings in the sum of
$31,200.00. The defendant objects to the unsubstantiated claim for loss of
earnings. As indicated previously a party will not be shut out completely for lack of
evidence. The court would usually make a nominal award in the absence of
evidence. Accordingly I would allow a pre-trial loss of earnings to be calculated at
a nominal rate of $500 monthly from 13th June 1998 to June 2002 making a total
award of $26,937.25 in special damages.
 In the final analysis an award is made to the claimant as follows:
General Damages – Pain and Suffering $100,000.00; Loss of Amenities
$150,000.00; Loss of Future Earnings – $ 90,000.00; Special Damages
$ 26,937.25, making a global award of $366,937.25.
 Interest at the rate of 3% is awarded on special damages from the date of injury to
judgment and at the rate of 6% from judgment until payment
 Interest at the rate of 3% for the award of Pain and suffering and Loss of amenities
from the service of the claim until judgment and at the rate of 6% from judgment
 The claimant is entitled to prescribed costs in accordance with CPR 65.5.
9 (1953) 3 All ER 803
10 (1977) 24 WIR 117