Court hears N50B suit against Shell March 23
A High Court of Rivers State, Port Harcourt, will on March 23 and 24, hear applications by parties in the N50 billion suit filed against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) by its ex-employees.
A couple and ex-employees of Shell, Emeka and Stella Okoli filed the suit, seeking damages for medical negligence by doctors working in Shell Hospital in Port Harcourt, during an appendectomy operation on their child, Chinazam.
Chinazam, the only son of the claimants, suffered brain damage and remained incapacitated and confined to a wheelchair, following the alleged negligent surgical procedure by Shell’s hospital and its doctors.
Those sued alongside Shell, as second and third defendants are, Dr. Alexander Dimoko and Dr. Dafe Akpoduado, who performed the appendectomy surgery on Chinazam in September 2016.
At the resumed proceedings of the matter, the defendants, through their counsels Cyriacus Orlu for Shell and Michael Amadi for 2nd and 3rd defendants, informed the court of their pending applications, challenging the suit.
They told the court that their separate applications were predicated on an argument that the writ of summons used in commencing the action by the claimants was incompetent.
They said the writ was not in line with Sections 97 and 98 of the Rules of Sheriff and Civil Processes Act and that the suit should be dismissed.
Responding, counsel to the claimants, Prof. Akin Ibidapo-Obe, told the court to discountenance the applications by the defence.
Ibidapo-Obe told the trial Judge, Weli Chechey, that he has filed fresh applications seeking to amend the writ of summons and to increase the damages to N60 billion.
He urged the court to dismiss the defendants’ submissions as baseless.
Ibidapo-Obe argued that he had already raised a motion to amend the writ of summons and asked the court to be guided on the priority of hearing the applications.
He submitted that the defendants could not depend on the Sherriff Act to declare a writ incompetent.
He said: “When Sections 97 and 98 are read in conjunction with the rules of the court, the court will see that there is no basis for the preliminary objections, and it is not for the other party to render any writ incompetent.”
Justice Chechey, who allowed the parties to present brief arguments, however, observed that Amadi, counsel to the second and third defendants, did not include a physical address in his applications, to enable timely service of the writ by the bailiff.
“Look at your process and tell me your physical address. Where is it?” the judged asked the lawyer and compelled him to admit that his claims were not qualified.
He also told the defence to consolidate their applications before the next adjourned date.
Justice Chechey adjourned the matter to March 27 and 28 to enable parties to reassess their positions and prepare to argue their applications.
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