Court Orders LA Casera To Pay Ex-staff N7.9m Entitlement

La Casera Company Plc, has been ordered by the Lagos division of the National Industrial Court (NICN) to pay a total sum of N7, 907, 709.50 million, as entitlement to one of its former staff, Victor Iwegbu.

The court also declared that Iwegbu’s employment was determined with effect from February 4, 2021.

Justice Maureen. N. Esowe, made the orders JULY 11, in a judgment marked NICN/LA/140/2021, filed by Iwegbu against the beverage company.

Iwegbu through his lawyer, Wale Ogunade, had dragged the company before the court, over his indefinite suspension in 2013, theft allegations.

The claimant had begged the court for the following reliefs: “a declaration that his dismissal from the company’s employment on the ground of crime of stealing, which was never proved in any Court of competent jurisdiction was wrongful and unlawful.

“An order directing that the dismissal letter by the company be Revoked and his resignation letter be accepted by the defendant.

“An order directing the defendant to pay him the sum of N8,107,584 million, at the rate of N84, 454, 00, per month, being the total sum of his salary from February 1, 2013 to February 28, 2021.

“An order directing the defendant to pay him the sum of N7. 5 million, for unlawful termination of his appointment, general damages and cost of instituting the suit respectively.

But the defendant, LA Casera Company Plc, through its team of lawyers who include; O. G. Nnoli, Olatunji Muritala and A. Onyemakonor, urged the court to dismiss the suit with substantial costs, for being statue barred.

The company also cited the Limitation Law of Lagos State, Caps L. 84, Laws of Lagos State 2015, which it said robbed the Court of the jurisdiction to entertain the same. 

It also pleaded that the Claimant’s suspension took effect from January 30, 2013 while his dismissal followed on June 30, 2013. And that the time frame within which to challenge both the suspension and dismissal was six (6) years elapsed on March 30, 2019 and June 30, 2019, respectively whereas the instant suit was filed on March 19, 2021.

The company also stated that the Claimant was found to have breached the rules and regulations guiding his employment sometime in January 2013, in particular, on or about January 26, 2013, the Claimant was queried for failure to capture the shortage of 2564 cases of products that were observed during stock-taking by the logistics department on January 23, 2013 and during the warehouse audit held from January 21 to 22 January 2013, which he actively participated in.  

The company also accused the claimant of failure to drain returned defective products which were surprisingly found to be in circulation in the market 3508 cases of drinks were given to him to drain and he deliberately failed to drain them which is evidenced amongst other things by his failure to invite the Quality Assurance team to supervise the draining in breach of the laid down procedure.

In deciding the suit, Justice Esowe, Having carefully considered all the processes filed by parties, their supporting documents, as well as arguments canvassed by both learned Counsel in their written submissions; it is in my humble view that the sole issue that would meet the justice of this case is: “whether or not the Claimant has proven his claims to be entitled to the reliefs sought?…..”

“……..on the whole, the Claimant’s case succeeds in part, and for the avoidance of doubt I declare and order as follows” hat Claimant claims 1 fails.

“That the Claimant’s employment was determined with effect on the 4th of  February 2021.

“That the Claimant is entitled to the total sum of N7, 907, 709. 5 million.

“That Claimant’s claims 4, 5, and 6 fail.

“All Judgment sum awarded is to be paid within (30 days) of this judgment, failing which it attracts 10% interest per annum. Judgment is entered accordingly.”