Court Slams Damages On First Bank For Causing Ex-staff Psychological Trauma

First Bank Plc, has against come under the hammer of Port-Harcourt, River State, division of the National Industrial Court (NICN), for causing one of its former Senior staff, Mrs Francisca O. Richard, Psychological Trauma.

Owing to the above, the presiding judge, Justice Faustinah I. Kola-Olalere, has awarded damages against First Bank Plc, as it was ordered to pay a total sum of N13. 5 million to Mrs. Richard.

The judge made the order and many others, while delivering judgment in a suit numbered NICN/YEN/148/2015, filed by Mrs. Richard against the bank. 

Mrs. Richard, who worked last with First Bank as Banking Officer, during the trial of the suit, told the court how the bank commissioned her to perform the jobs that was outside her normal duties, as she was compelled by the bank’s Station Road Branch Manager to proceed to Lagos to bring in cash in foreign currency, to Port-Harcourt, River State, by road.

Mrs. Richard who was led in evidence by her lawyer, Ledum Mitee, told the court that and that due to the bank’s gross negligence and exposure to life threatening risks, she sustained serious gunshot injuries, became traumatized, suffered psychological shock and stress as well as lost her hand bag containing valuables. 

She also told the court that as a result of the actions of the bank’s agents and privies, she was forced to resign her employment.

She consequently asked for the following reliefs against the bank; “the sum of N45,120 million, as special damages for the grievous injury and psychological trauma she suffered, as a result of the Defendant’s failure in their duty of line towards her.

“A declaration that the actions of the bank and its agents that leads to her resignation on October 26, 2011 amounts to constructive dismissal.

“As a result of her constructive dismissal by the bank, she is entitled to the sum of N13, 019, 271.9 million, as loss of earnings from October 2011 till December 2015 with 10% interest and thereafter till judgment and or final payment of the judgment sum.

“The sum of N10 million, as general damages.”

But First Bank Plc, in defending the suit, through its witnesses, told the court to discountenance the claimant’s claims with substantial court.

The bank while admitting that the claimant was it’s employee, said the she was the cause of psychological trauma she suffered, by refusing to obey the instructions given to her.

The bank said it was true that she was asked to go to Lagos by road with another employees of the bank to collect cash from the it’s Head Office and bring it to Port Harcourt. 

The bank through its witnesses who were led by Barrister O. L. Leboar, stated that the bank had security arrangement put in place by the it for the safety of the claimant and the other staff who were involved in the transaction for the movement of both cash and personnel was top notch and met the highest standard that is available within the Banking Industry in Nigeria. But the claimant instead of going with other opted to travel in Honda saloon car she requested for.

Consequently, the bank absolved itself from what the claimant’s psychological trauma claims, and urged the court to dismiss the suit with heavy cost.

Justice Kola-Olalere in her judgment after going through the facts of the case, parties’ pleadings, their testimonies the written arguments, all the Exhibits tendered and the cited authorities of their counsel, decided most of the issues raised in favour of the claimant.

The judge held that: “……on the whole, I hold and order as follows: ‘I hold that the Defendant owed the Claimant duty of care while she was in its employment.

“I hold that the defendant was negligent in that duty of care.

“I hold that the claimant was injured because of the defendant’s negligence.

“I hold that the Court can award damages to the claimant for the said negligence of the defendant.

“I hold that the claimant is entitled to the total sum of N11 million, as general Damages for the defendant’s negligence.

“I hold that the claimant succeeded in proving a case of constructive dismissal against the defendant in this case.

“I hold that the claimant is entitled to N2 million, as general damages for her constructive dismissal.

“I hold that the claimant is not entitled to claim from the defendant, the sum of N13, 019,271.9 million, as loss of earnings from October 2011 till December 2015 with 10% interest thereon for her involuntary resignation because her employment was not with statutory flavour.

“The said claim for N13,019,271.9 million, as earnings from October 2011 till December 2015 with 10% interest thereon is accordingly dismissed.

“I hereby direct the defendant to pay to the claimant, the sum of N11 million, as general damages for the defendant’s negligence towards her in the incident in question.

“I hereby direct the defendant to pay to the claimant, the sum of N2 million, as general damages for her involuntary resignation and constructive dismissal of her employment.

“I hereby direct the defendant to pay to the claimant, the sum of N500, 000.00, to the claimant as cost of this action

“I hereby direct that the total judgment sum of N13,500 million, is to be paid to the claimant by the defendant within 30 days from today after which it will attract 10% interest per annum until it is finally liquidated.

“Judgment is entered accordingly.”