A Liberian court has ruled that GT Bank Liberia must be held liable for injuries sustained by former employee Edward Freeman in 2018.
The Civil Law Court ‘B’ at the Temple of Justice on Wednesday, June 3, ruled in favour of Sie Edward Freeman, the former Head of the bank’s Public Sectors Group. Mr Freeman had filed a civil suit against GTBank Liberia and its former chief, Nigerian Ayodeji Bejide, seeking US$1,500,000 in damages for the injuries he sustained at the hands of the bank’s head.
The assault allegedly occurred on August 28, 2018, when both men were in a meeting in connection with the bank’s business. It was during this meeting that Ayodeji Bejide, the bank’s chief executive at that time, allegedly hurled a calculator at Mr Freeman, allegedly causing a serious injury to his lips.
In Wednesday’s ruling, Judge Scheaplor R. Dunbar said that GTBank Liberia is liable for injuries that the plaintiff Mr Freeman sustained on August 28, 2018, as the direct result of actions of the bank’s former Managing Director, Ayodeji Bejide. The court awarded US$250,000 in damages, a far cry from the plaintiff’s demand for US$1,500,000.
In his ruling, Dunbar stated: “The bank is ordered to pay the amount of US$250,000 as general damages for the injuries, humiliation, emotional distress and mental anguish suffered by Freeman, as a direct result of Bejide’s violent assault. “The clerk of the court is ordered to prepare a bill of costs for taxing by the parties and approved by the court, cost ruled against the bank, so ordered.”
“The wrongful conduct complained of said the assault on Freeman was carried out by Bejide on the bank’s premises and during normal working hours, and in the normal and ordinary course of business. Freeman is entitled to judgment in his favor. He presented sufficient evidence during trial in support of his allegation against the bank and is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” ruled the judge. Judge Dunbar did not say why the damages were reduced.
Dunbar disagreed with GTBank’s lawyers saying that the court would not accept the bank’s contention of non-liability for the conduct of Bejide against Freeman and that there is no way the bank cannot be held vicariously liable for its former chief executive’s actions.
The initial suit was filed after Mr Freeman shared a video on the social media platform Facebook on August 28, 2018 in which he was bleeding profusely from his lips after Mr Bejide allegedly hurled a projectile, later revealed to be a calculator, at him.
After the video went viral, policemen arrested Bejide who was subsequently charged with aggravated assault and arraigned at the Monrovia City Court. However, the court would later free Bejide after his lawyers filed a $US50,000 bail to enable him seek “medical attention” in Nigeria. Bejide has been replaced and has not returned since, forcing Mr Freeman’s lawyers to file the lawsuit against GTBank Liberia and the bank’s former helmsman.
GTBank Liberia has never denied that its former chief executive violent assaulted Freeman but during the trial, the bank’s lawyers argued that the Manager’s conduct was outside his job description, and as such, the bank could not be held liable for his actions. GTBank Liberia has rejected the judgement and has proceeded to file an appeal at the Supreme Court.