Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
A JAMAICA URBAN TRANSIT COMPANY (JUTC) driver, who claimed to have injured his back after the bus he was driving fell into potholes in the Corporate Area, has been awarded close to $1 million by a high court judge.
The State-owned bus company has been ordered to pay the driver, identified in court documents as David Prince, $700,000 in general damages "for suffering and loss of amenities", and special damages of $182,500. The awards attract interest, to be calculated from June 2011 and November 2007, respectively.
Prince's suit against the JUTC followed an incident he claimed occurred in November 2007 while he was driving a bus along Arthur Wint Drive in St Andrew.
In court documents, he reported that on reaching the vicinity of the Bustamante Hospital for Children, he manoeuvred the bus into the lay-by to allow passengers to get off.
Describing the lay-by as being "riddled" with potholes, Prince revealed how the bus rocked violently as he attempted to negotiate them and re-enter Arthur Wint Drive.
However, according to Prince's witness statement, it was not until he was about to leave downtown Kingston on another trip that he began to experience pain in his lower back and blamed it on what he described as a defective driver's seat.
"The seat was defective. Although it was bolted to the floor of the bus, it was shaky and not firm. The fact of the seat ... being shaky caused a twisting of my back when the bus went into the potholes that day," he claimed.
Court documents also show that several doctors who examined Prince concluded that he had suffered a lower-back strain.
The JUTC, however, insisted that the seat was not defective.
In his decision handed down last week Thursday, Justice David Batts said he accepted that the driver's seat was defective "in that it was not firm, but rocked from side to side."
"The impact with the potholes was sufficient to cause the claimant's back to be hurt as it rocked from side to side... . I, therefore, find the defendant [JUTC] liable to the claimant for allowing him to drive a bus with a defective driver's seat. His place of employment was, therefore, not reasonably safe, " Batts underscored.