Liberia: Ex-GTBank Employee Freeman Awarded U.S.$250k in Damage Suit

GT Bank Liberia managing director, Ayodeji Bejide, allegedly injured employee Edward Freeman by throwing a calculator at him, causing a serious injury to his lips.

The Civil Law Court 'B' at the Temple of Justice on Wednesday, June 3, ruled in favor of the former Head of Public Sectors Group of the Guaranty Trust Bank (Liberia) Limited, Sie Edward Freeman (plaintiff), in an Action for Damages for Wrong lawsuit against the bank (first defendant) , awarding him the amount of US$250,000, as general damages.

In the court's Wednesday's ruling, Judge Scheaplor R. Dunbar said the first defendant (Bank) is adjudged liable to plaintiff (Freeman) for the injuries he sustained on August 28, 2018, as the direct result of the bank's former Managing Director, Ayodeji Bejide (second defendant) , a Nigerian.

However, the bank's lawyers rejected Dunbar's judgment and subsequently announced an appeal before the Supreme Court, and which could linger there for months before a final opinion can be delivered on the matter.

Initially, Freeman had sued the bank for US$1.5million in damages, but, Judge Dunbar's ruling said, "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".

Judge Dunbar's judgment did not explain further about the drastic reduction of the lawsuit amount from US$1.5million to US$250,000.

Instead, Dunbar mandated the court's clerk saying, "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."

It may be recalled that on August 28, 2018, Freeman shared a video on Facebook in which he was bleeding from his lips in Bejide's office after Bejide reportedly hit him with a calculator.

The video went viral, prompting officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to arrest Bejide. Bejide was subsequently charged with aggravated assault and forwarded to the Monrovia City Court for prosecution. Later, the court released Bejide shortly after his (Bejide) lawyers claimed to have filed a US$50,000 bail in order to seek medical attention in Nigeria. Up to present, Bejide is yet to return, prompting Freeman's legal team to file a damage lawsuit against Bejide's employer, the GT Bank.

However, the bank did not deny its Managing Director, Bejide's violent assault on Freeman during the trial; they contended that the Manager's conduct was outside of his job description, and as such, the bank cannot be held liable.

Further to the ruling, Dunbar said, his court refuses to accept the bank's contention of non-liability for the conduct of Bejide against Freeman.

"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," the ruling said.

According to Dunbar, there is no way the bank can successfully argue that it cannot be held vicariously liable for the injuries sustained by Freeman.

Dunbar added that it was the bank that vetted and employed Bejide before sending him (Bejide) to Liberia to serve as Managing Director of its Liberian Branch

Dunbar went on that Bejide assaulted and injured freeman on August 28, 2018, when they were in a meeting in connection with the bank's business.

The judge said the bank is vicariously liable for the wrongful conduct of Bejide because Freeman has produced clear and cogent evidence in support of his allegation.

"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, " Dunbar ruled.

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