Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Pay pain

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NON-PAYMENT of a $1/2 million settlement that reached the attention of two Prime Ministers, a Chief Justice, and the floor of Parliament remains unpaid 18 years after a vehicular accident that led to the retirement of a police constable on medical grounds.
Andrew Lewis told the DAILY NATION he was driving a police vehicle in 1993 when it was involved in an accident with another car. Lewis, who was trapped in the vehicle and had to be pulled from the wreckage, suffered injuries to his back and left leg. He was later diagnosed with “chronic back pain” and “pseudo-paresis of the left leg” by an orthopaedic surgeon.
The driver of the second vehicle was found culpable when the matter subsequently reached the law courts. Justice Shirley Belle assessed damages on March 20, 2003, at $490 322. Interest on the sum was put at the rate of four per cent per annum from December 2, 1999, until June 22, 2000, and eight per cent thereafter until payment. Costs were also put at $102 869.
The defendant was insured by Great Northern Insurance Company (Barbados) Limited. That company no longer writes business.
“Over the years my attorney and I have written at varying times to Chief Justice Sir David Simmons on this matter, late Prime Minister David Thompson, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, the Supervisor of Insurance [Carlos Belgrave], among others, on this matter, and to date the judgment has not been honoured. Thompson raised my issue in the House of Assembly when he was in the Opposition,” Lewis said.
He produced an official letter received from the Office of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Development and Energy dated March 3, 2008, which noted: “Please be informed that the Supervisor of Insurance has advised that arrangements have been made with FirstCaribbean International Bank and the Accountant General’s Office to commence the disbursement to claimants starting in January 2008.”
That correspondence followed a letter which Lewis received from Belgrave a month earlier stating Great Northern had “some funds” available but the claims far exceeded the funds and claimants would have to receive their money on a pro rata basis.
 “To suffer all these years even though judgment has been made in my favour and where I am told funds are there is not fair to me and my family,” Lewis said.
Acting Supervisor of Insurance Vernese Brathwaite said yesterday that Lewis’ matter was receiving attention.

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