Industrial Accident: Court Orders Axxon Energy To Pay N15m To Ex-staff

An Awka division of National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) has ordered an energy company, Axxon Energy Limited, to pay the sum of N15 million, to one of its former workers, Happy Uche, as compensation.

Justice (Dr.) J. I. Targema, directed Axxon Energy Limited, in a judgment delivered on the suit filed by the former manager, whose his left leg was amputated as a result of accident he had while working with the firm.

Uche had dragged Axxon Energy Limited and it’s managing director, Victor S. Akan, before the court, in a suit numbered NICN/ASB/10/2019, after the leg was amputated.

Uche through his lawyer, Emokiniovo Dafe-Akpedeye, (SAN), had asked the court for the following reliefs: “a declaration that the defendants were vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver of the vehicle which led to the accident that cost the claimant his left lower limb.

“An order directing the defendants to pay the sum of ₦5, 785, 650 (Five Million, Seven Hundred and Eight Five Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Naira) as his accrued emoluments, allowances and gratuity.

“An order directing the defendants to pay to the claimant the sum of ₦100 million as compensation for the permanent deformity of the claimant caused by the accident. And cost of ₦2 million for the filing of this action.”

The claimant, during the trial of the suit said he was an employee of the Axxon Energy Limited from February 14, 2011 till March 31, 2019, when he was forced to resign as a result of the treatment meted out to him by the firm’s  management, that while in the employment of the firm, he was sometimes deployed it’s subsidiary firm, to VMART Company Limited, as a Joint Analysing Method (JAM) Unit Operator during Casing and Tubular Running services in its onshore oil rigs. 

He added that on June 21, 2013, he was mobilized with a crew of seven other personnel of the firm for a Casing and Tubular running job in one of the land rig at Okpia, Kwale, Delta State. He added that surprisingly, one Prosper Adagbowa, one of the Company’s Official Mechanic was assigned to drive the crew bus and all enquiry as to the where about of the company’s official driver fell on deaf ears; that unfortunately, barely two hours into the journey, the driver lost control of the bus which resulted in a fatal accident which left one of the personnel dead, and others, including the claimant severely injured; that due to the severity of the accident and injuries, the claimant’s left leg was amputated.

He stated further that on March 4, 2019, after eight years of meritorious service to the firm, he tendered his notice of resignation from his current position as Head of Department Asset (Management level); that after all the promises of proper settlement made to him by the defendants, the firm only offered to pay ₦2 million, as compensation for his life deforming injury and terminal benefit, an offer which he rejected.

He also told the court in spite of his rejection of the offer, the defendants proceeded to transfer the N2 million to his account that he was not been compensated for his deformity, neither has he been sufficiently paid his accrued benefits having served defendants for 8 years.

In defending the suit, the defendants, Axxon Energy Limited and Victor S. Akan through their lawyer, Gregory Gboloji Okolo, urged the court to decline the applicant’s requests for been statue bar.
 The defendants in their statement of defence stated that while the claimant went for an out station work at Okpia kwale in Delta State, the vehicle conveying him and seven others on June 21, 2013, had a fatal accident which left one person dead and others including the claimant severely injured which resulted to the amputation of the claimant’s one leg. 

They also argued that they make sure after the accident that the claimant was well taken care of in one of the best hospital Warri (Lilly Clinic); bought a car for him, procure prosthesis and other sundry materials for his proper care and well being, and in all, he was retained and promoted to a Management staff. Adding that he work for more than five years after the accident and resigned voluntarily from the firm on March 4 2019. That he therefore worked from 21 June 2013 to 7 June 2019 when he filed this present suit against them. 
Justice Targema in his judgment after dealing legally with submissions made by parties and citing plethoras legal authorites held thus: “itself enjoined that awarded damages for pains and suffering and disfigurement, being a lump sum and a once and for all exercise, must also, in order to be fair and reasonable, take care of future economic loss otherwise known as prospective loss in order to keep up with the times and in particular with the economic strength or decline as the case may be, of our national currency, the Naira.  

“There is no taking away the fact that claimant has his amputated lower left limb to live with and be reminded of the accident for life. For this, and just this, I award the sum of ₦15 Million as damages to the claimant against the defendants.

“On the whole, the claimant’s case succeeds in part and only in terms of the following declaration and order:

“t is hereby declared that the defendants are vicariously liable for the negligence of their employee who caused the accident that led to the fatal injury suffered by the claimant, thereby leading to the amputation of his lower left limb.

“The defendants shall pay to the claimant the sum of ₦5 million, only as damages for negligence for the loss of the lower left limb of the claimant while on the way in defendants’ vehicle for casing and tubular running operation at Okpia, Kwale, Delta State, Nigeria.

“The said ₦15 Million shall be paid within 30 days of this judgment, failing which it shall attract interest at 10 percent per annum. Judgment is entered accordingly.”