Court Ruling Compels Air France to Pay N500,000 Damages to Lagos Judge, Husband

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered Air France to pay a Lagos State High Court judge, Mrs Oke Lawal and her husband, Chief Bayo Lawal, N500,000 as compensation for losing their luggage.

Justice Saliu Saidu who delivered the judgement upheld the plaintiff’s claim that Air France breached its contract of carriage by air with the couple, causing them mental anguish and distress.

The order was made last Friday, but a copy of the judgement was made available to a national daily Wednesday, May 20.

In the plaintiffs’ suit filed by their counsel Folabi Kuti, they averred that Air france delayed two and lost one of their three pieces of luggage around July 26, 2015 during their trip to Florence, Italy, Paris in France and the British capital, London.

Chief Lawal averred that on July 29, 2015, he was contacted by an unidentified person on the internet, claiming to be in possession of his luggage.

He assumed that the individual had apparently broken into his luggage, and was able to orally identify the contents thereof including his iPad, and sensitive drug medication.

The Lawals filed a claim for general damages against Air France, to the tune N30 million and £2,871 for the loss of luggage, its contents and compensation for the mental anguish and mental distress they suffered following the contract breach.

Air France, in a statement of defence through its counsel Ogunyemi Olanrewaju, denied liability and urged the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims

But Justice Saidu found merit in the couple’s case.

He held: “The provisions of Section 22(2) of the Montreal Convention 1999, is very clear, the damages arising from loss or delay of luggage is limited to 1,000 Special Drawing Right.

“It is part of the evidence of the plaintiffs that they carried out some actions in seeing to the recovery of their baggage. “These actions of the plaintiffs will definitely incur additional expenses in the course trying to locate their luggage.

“The defendant having admitted that it lost Chief Bayo Lawal’s luggage and delayed the delivery of Justice Oke Lawal’s luggage, l gave judgement in favour of the plaintiffs as follows:

“Delay of the defendant to deliver the check -in Luggage of Justice Oke Lawal amounts to a breach of contract of carriage by Air.

“The defendant is liable for loss and delay of the plaintiffs Luggage and the defendant is to pay the plaintiffs 1,000 Special Drawing Right each.

“General damages in the sum of N500,000 only in favour of the plaintiffs.”

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