Sri Lanka hospital ordered to pay record damages over assault

ECONOMYNEXT – A Sri Lankan hospital has been ordered to pay a record five million rupees in damages after its security guards assaulted the father of a two-month old sick baby who had gone there to consult a doctor.
In a landmark civil appellate judgement, the High Court of the Western Province held recently that Asha Central Hospital was liable to pay damages for the assault on Roshan Bansajaya by two security guards at the hospital’s car park at Horton Place, Colombo 7.
Asha Central, which was acquired by Asiri Hospitals of the Softlogic Group, had appealed the award by the Colombo District Court in June 2009 saying that victim could not demand five million rupees as he did not suffer loss of reputation because only his family members saw him get assaulted.
"The pain caused to him in mind by being assaulted by someone guarding the hospital to which he went to get treatments for an infant of his, in the presence of his other child, wife and father is not something that could be treated lightly," judge D. N. Samarakoon said while his colleague judge Mahinda Samayawardhana agreed.
The judges took serious note of the humiliation suffered by Bangsajaya who had been assaulted at the Asha Central when it was located at Horton Place in August 2005.
Asha Central and two security guards — Sameera and Nandana were held liable. Legal sources said it was possibly one of the highest damages ordered to be paid by a hospital in a non-medical related case.
The hospital had tried to distance itself from any liability arguing that it was not responsible for the actions of the two guards who were employees of Alco Security Services of Maharagama contracted to provide services to Asha Central.
The trouble started at the car park of the hospital where a security guard had abused the father of the victim. He had then complained to the manager of the hospital who had asked the guards to apologise.
However, a short while later, about four security guards had accosted the victim at the hospital’s canteen and assaulted him for complaining to the hospital management about their abusive conduct.
The appellate court noted that a criminal case against the guards had been dismissed by a magistrate, but on the balance of probability the judges in the civil case accepted that the assault had taken place and awarded the damages.
the courts also questioned the true value of employing security guards and likened them to light fittings used to add importance and sometimes pompousness to an establishment.
"There is no question that security officers too are used to show the splendour often, sometimes more than the actual security they provide," the judges said.

In its 2013/14 annual report, Asiri Central said it set aside 50 million rupees as pending litigation liability. (COLOMBO, Oct 8, 2016)

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