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Ralston Headley v M & M Jamaica Ltd [Supreme Court]
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1 User Commentary

Melanie Davidson (In-house lawyer) 06 October 2015

Case Digest: Ralston Headley v M & M Jamaica Limited [2014] 5 JJC 0702; [2014] JMSC CIV 73

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The Supreme Court of Jamaica handed down its judgment in Ralston Headley v M & M Jamaica Limited [2014] 5 JJC 0702; [2014] JMSC CIV 73.

The claimant was injured while working as a laborer for the defendant in 2009. In response the claimant filed an extensive claim against the defendant in which he alleged that he was injured as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

The particulars of negligence included the following;

 i.) Failing to provide a safe place of work;

ii.) Failing to provide a safe system of work;

iii.) Failing to provide the requisite warnings, notices and/or special instructions to the claimant and its other employees in the execution of its operations so as to prevent the claimant being injured;

iv.) Failing to provide proper and effective lighting on the site; etc …

In addition, the claimant also made a claim for damages for breach of contract on the basis that the defendant failed to take reasonable care in the execution of its operations so as not to subject the claimant to foreseeable risk of injury. It also alleged that the defendant breached the Occupier’s Liability Act (the Act), by its negligent maintenance or management of the site.

The defendant denied the particulars of negligence and stated that the claimant left the area in which he was working, without advising his supervisor or his colleagues. They also stated that various safety measures were in place at the site to ensure the safety of all persons including the claimant.

In a judgment given by Simmons J, she found that the claimant breached the duty of care owed to the defendant by its failure to cordon off the area around the tank and to provide adequate light on the evening in question. However, having found that the defendant knew of the existence of the open tank and that he went onto that section of the roof which was poorly lit, she was of the view that he failed to take proper precautions for his own safety. The judge accepted the submissions of the counsel for the defendant and found that both parties were equally responsible for the accident.

Judgment was therefore awarded to the claimant with damages to be assessed on the basis of equal liability.


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