Ronald Charles v Rodrick Griffith et Al

JurisdictionGrenada
JudgeGlasgow, J.
Judgment Date05 October 2023
Judgment citation (vLex)[2023] ECSC J1005-2
Docket NumberCLAIM NO. GDAHCV2020/0267
CourtHigh Court (Grenada)
Between:
Ronald Charles
Claimant
and
[1] Rodrick Griffith
[2] Meshach Willliams
Defendant
Before:

The Hon. Mr. Justice Raulston L. A. Glasgow High Court Judge

CLAIM NO. GDAHCV2020/0267

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF GRENADA

AND WEST INDIES ASSOCIATED STATES

HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

(CIVIL)

Appearances:

Ms. Sheriba Lewis for the Claimant

Ms. Skeeta Chitan, Mr. Ricardo Sylvester and Mr. Kadeem Strachan for the Defendants

Glasgow, J.
1

On the 10 th day of September 2019, the claimant, Mr. Ronald Charles (Mr. Charles) was driving a pink 1995 Toyota Corolla registration number P7746 along the St. Paul's Main Road, St. George's. At the time he was employed as a physical education instructor and swim, track and field coach at the Alpha Junior School (Alpha) located in Mt. Parnassus, St. George's. In order to leave the St. Paul's Main Road to get to Alpha, Mr. Charles would have to leave the right lane in which he was driving, make a right turn across the left lane then enter into a minor road that leads into the Mt. Parnassus area (the junction). It is a manoeuvre that he performed most days to get to Alpha. On the day in question, he performed the same manoeuvre but at some point in executing the turn, there was a collision with a 2018 Toyota Hiace bus. The bus, bearing registration number HAP200 was driven by the second defendant, Meshach Williams (Mr. Williams). The bus was owned by the first defendant, Roderick Griffith (Mr. Griffith). Mr. Charles and Mr. Williams contest how the collision occurred. Mr. Charles filed this action against the defendants in which he claims that Mr. Williams drove in such a way to cause the collision. He says in his claim that Mr. Griffith is vicariously liable as owner of the bus. The defendants filed a defence in which they deny that they are liable as claimed. They counterclaimed and alleged that Mr. Charles is solely responsible for the accident. Both sides seek damages, interests and costs.

Mr. Charles' version
2

Mr. Charles' case is that on the day in question he approached the junction situated on his right-hand side. Before attempting to cross into the minor road leading to Mt. Parnassus, he slowed down and checked the road for oncoming traffic. He noticed a white vehicle reversing from the car park of a supermarket known as “Bread Supermarket which was about eighty (80) feet away from the junction on the right side of the road in my direction of travel. I did not observe any other oncoming traffic from the other side of the road.” 1

3

Mr. Charles states he put on his right indicator then proceeded to enter the Mt. Parnassus junction on his right-hand side. He observed that there was a build-up of traffic on his side of the road which he surmises was caused by a number of factors. He explains that he entered the junction slowly since the entrance to the junction is narrowed by an electric pole located in the middle of the road. Of note in this case is his evidence that he followed another vehicle(s) entering into the junction at the time. Upon reaching about halfway into the junction he heard a vehicle blowing its horn and then he felt the impact to the left side of his vehicle. The impact caused his vehicle to spin and then come to a stop. The rest of his case recites what transpired after Mr. Griffith's vehicle impacted his vehicle. He then claims losses for damage to his vehicle, injuries, interests and costs. At trial, Mr. Charles sought to press the fact that Mr. Griffith was charged for the offence of driving without due care and attention and that he was convicted of the same by a magistrate.

Mr. Williams's version
4

Mr. Williams recalls that on the day in question he was driving the Toyota Hiace bus as a hired driver on behalf of Mr. Griffith, the owner. He was driving the bus on the way to the parish of St. David's which is the route that he uses daily to ply his trade as a bus driver. He was thus travelling in the opposite direction to Mr. Charles. He notes that the road ahead of him on that day was clear of traffic. He was driving at about 30 mph. As he approached Bread's Supermarket, (located on the left-hand side in his direction of travel) he noticed a car attempting to reverse out of the supermarket's parking lot onto the St. Paul's Main Road directly into his path of travel. As the back portion of the car was about to enter his path of travel, he sounded his horn. The car halted its manoeuvre into the main road and drove back into the Bread Supermarket's parking lot.

5

Mr. Charles' testimony is that when the reversing car returned to the parking lot, there was still no traffic in the lane ahead of him. He did observe a line of traffic in the lane opposite to him heading in the other direction. Traffic was moving slowly. As he drove past Bread Supermarket, a car suddenly pulled out from the line of traffic on the opposite side and turned into the junction leading into Mt. Parnassus. The car thus turned into his lane of traffic. It did so without warning. In his witness statement he explains that even if the driver of the car had indicated that he intended to turn into the junction, the driver could not perform the manoeuvre at the moment that he did since “it was clearly unsafe to do so as the manoeuvre involved the car travelling from the right side of the road and across the road into the Mt. Parnassus main road.” 2 Mr. Williams claims for the damage to his vehicle, loss of use, interests and costs.

The trial, discussion and findings Liability
6

I have formed the view that notwithstanding the spirited and strenuous arguments on both sides, the claimant, Mr. Charles is wholly responsible for the collision. I start with the accepted principle that the driver who wishes to perform a legal, but unusual or possibly dangerous manoeuvre is tasked with the greater burden of proceeding in a careful manner. 3 In this case I do not find that Mr. Charles discharged that burden for several reasons.

7

Firstly, it is beyond trite that Mr. Charles was tasked with ensuring that it was safe to turn before he performed the manoeuvre of crossing from his lane of traffic into the opposite lane. Incredibly he accepts that at the time he was following another or other vehicles that were turning in to the same junction. My assessment is that he was duty bound to ensure that the lane on his left was clear of all traffic before making the turn and not just to follow other vehicles ahead of him. I do not accept that he acted in the appropriate manner. Both drivers accept that the road in...

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