School sued over alleged negligence after allegedly serving pupil banku

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A private school at Oyarifa in Accra, Gracefield School Limited, has been put before court over alleged negligence that risked the health of a five-year-old pupil of the school.

The school is said to have on June 24, 2021, fed the pupil with banku, knowing well that he had corn or maize allergies.

The plaintiff, who is being represented by Mr Charles Kofi Kwadam, is therefore claiming compensatory damages of GH₵150,000 for the trauma, ill health and inconvenience suffered by the minor.

The plaintiff is also claiming punitive damages against the school for putting the life of the minor at risk regardless of being aware of his health condition.

The plaintiff is further seeking special damages of GH₵1,634 the cost of seeking medical treatment for the minor.

The court heard that the minor was enrolled in the School on April 23, 2021, and started on May 4, 2021

In a statement of claim, the minor’s mother said she had informed the school of his allergies.

It said the mother, on the admission form, indicated that her son had allergic rhinitis, corn or maize and groundnut allergies.

“The defendant, for this reason, had, prior to June 24, 2021, given the plaintiff alternative food whenever the banku was served to other students for lunch.

“The defendant on June 24, 2021, at lunch, instead of serving the plaintiff with an alternative food, served the plaintiff with banku, which he was allergic to because it contained corn or maize,” the statement of claim said.

The court heard that because the minor was starving by lunchtime, he ate about six morsels of the banku before the school’s lunchtime attendant changed it to a bowl of spaghetti for him.

The court was told that after school, the minor fell asleep and woke up around 7 pm the same day and started vomiting profusely.

“Plaintiff between 7 pm and 11 pm had vomited about seven times,” the statement of claim said.

The court heard that he was rushed to two different hospitals and spent days on admission.

“He was said to have suffered a lot of physical pains with the vomiting leaving him weak and dehydrated. Again, he suffered emotionally and psychologically,” the statement of claim said.

The school’s administrator and class teacher were said to be informed about his plight and they promised that “they will not repeat that mistake again.”

The Plaintiff held that the school had, however, not done anything to mitigate the harm it caused him or compensate him for the physical pain, trauma and distress.

The School, in its statement of defence, denied some of the issues raised by the plaintiff.

The defendant said at all material time since the admission of the plaintiff at the School, its officers had constantly followed the instructions of the (plaintiff’s) mother and at no material time had the School failed to comply with instructions related to “his allergies.”

“…At no material time to the day in question did any of our officers make available to the Plaintiff banku in lieu of any other food to, which the plaintiff is not allergic.”

The defendant said on June 24, 2021, the Plaintiff brought snacks to school where he ate them at about 10:00 am before lunch was served at 11:00 am and, therefore, he could not have been starving at lunchtime.

The School averred that during lunchtime, the minor was served with spaghetti in sauce only.

The defendant said after lunch, the minor ate the rest of her snacks, which he had brought from home and he did not show any sign of sickness, weakness or allergic reaction whilst in the School.

The School further contended that any substance found in the vomit of the minor could have been any chewed material and maintained that it did not “serve or make available banku” to the minor.

According to the defendant, the minor’s family had been making false and unfounded allegations against the School, a behaviour, which was unreasonable and denied the claims in its entirety, maintaining that the minor was not entitled to any of his claims.

The Plaintiff has been cross-examined and the matter adjourned to July 15, 2022.

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