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Cancer victim begins collecting court award from Gov't

BY PAUL HENRY Co-ordinator - Crime/Court Desk henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 29, 2014    

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THE State has started making payment to a 38-year-old man, who developed cancer of the blood from exposure to a shipment of dangerous chemicals while working at Kingston Wharves 10 years ago.

Attorney Nigel Jones told the Jamaica Observer, yesterday, that payment is now being made to his client Radcliffe Taylor regarding the $8.5million award for pain and suffering. The payment stems from a ruling by the Supreme Court in January of this year in which several millions in damages was awarded to Taylor.

The court had also awarded general damages in the sum of $12,513,520 and US$760,239 ($83,626,290) and $2,484,000 and US$759,000 for future medical expenses. The parties had agreed on special damages in the sum of $265,000.

While the state has committed to the other sums, it is currently appealing the ruling for future medical expenses, a move Taylor called "unconscionable" during an interview with the Observer in June.

"It would be better if they had challenged the pain and suffering award because the sickness hasn't gone away. I have to battle it every week," Taylor said then in reference to his medical treatment.

The State has said that it is appealing the future medical expenses aspect of the ruling because it wasn't pleaded in Taylor's case before the award was made.

On June 26, Jones wrote to Carlene Larmond, the director of litigation in the Attorney General's Chambers, pointing out that it's "trite law that future medical expenses are general damages and as such do not need to be pleaded.

Furthermore, Jones pointed out that the attorney general chambers, which represents the State, cannot appeal the ruling as it had no standing at the time of the assessment of damages hearing, pursuant to rule 12.13 of the Civil Procedure Rules. This states that unless the defendant applies for and obtains an order for the judgement to be set aside, the only matters on which a defendant against whom a default judgement has been entered may be heard are costs, the time of payment of any judgement debt, enforcement of the judgement and an application under rule 12.10 (2).

"In light of the foregoing, we are suggesting that the appeal be withdrawn to avoid the prolong suffering of our client Radcliffe Taylor, a cancer victim," the attorney wrote. "In addition this unsubstantiated appeal will expose taxpayers to substantial interest and costs, which will accrue as a result of this frivolous appeal."

Taylor had filed a suit against the Commissioner of Customs, Kingston Wharves Ltd, and the Attorney General of Jamaica. The case against Kingston Wharves was subsequently dropped.

Taylor was among a group of workers at Kingston Wharves on February 19, 2004 who were asked to inspect a damaged container on-board a Mexico-bound ship that was emitting a foul odour.

The container was carrying drums of chemicals called Dimethoate Tech 98% d - an insecticide used to kill mites and insects.

The workers were only provided with dust respirators, no protective gear, throughout the four hours it took them to remove and inspect the drums and place them back in the container.

Within hours, workers in the vicinity of the opened container started falling ill, according to the ruling. Taylor himself started experiencing itching in the throat and runny eyes, and continued, over the course of months, to experience sickness, including severe pains to his shoulder and lower back, which caused him to seek medical assistance.

Taylor, who is the father of an 11-year-old son, was later diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2004, after falling ill.

Taylor's case reportedly led to some changes. A trained and fully equipped team is now in place to handle chemical shipments, while containers coming into the island's ports are now properly labelled.

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