After their son was fatally struck by a car while riding his motorcycle, a Tabaquite couple decided to initiate legal action but unknown to them their attorneys did not file the claim in court.
It was only after they contacted the law chambers two years later did the attorneys realise that the file was misplaced due to an administrative error.
Their attorneys immediately filed the claim but the four-year limitation period expired in January.
Granting the application of the couple Deokie Doobar, 62, and pensioner Vester Villafana to file the claim after the expiration date, Justice Frank Seepersad said their explanation was rational, believable, and understandable.
However, he described the lawyers’ conduct as poor.
“No proper monitoring of the claimants’ matter was undertaken. Eventually and fortunately for them after two years of virtual neglect by their lawyers, the claimants enquired about their claim, and same was subsequently filed,” said the judge.
Doobar’s son and Villafana’s stepson, Simon Villafana, 24, the main breadwinner of the family was killed on January 16, 2016, while riding his motorcycle in Cunupia.
A police report stated that a car made a right turn from Jerningham Junction onto the Southern Main Road and collided with his motorcycle. The driver was subsequently charged for causing his death by dangerous driving.
The couple had no money to pursue damages against the driver and the insurance company, but a law firm offered to do the case pro bono. However, on March 5 when Villafana called the Freedom Law Chambers to inquire if there was a settlement in the matter, checks were done and the file was found at an offsite storage location.
According to the court documents, the attorney who was assigned the case left the law firm two years ago and at that time significant infrastructural upgrades were being done to the building.
All files were packed in boxes and temporarily stored offsite.
However, the couple’s file was inadvertently misplaced. In her affidavit, Doobar said, “The situation was beyond our control and we should not have to bear the consequences of same. It resulted from an unfortunate administrative error which was beyond our control. We are impecunious and lost our only child who was the breadwinner of the family. We should not be held responsible for this error since to do so would be unfair and inequitable.”
She said they did not know about the limitation period and since their son’s death, they have been sad and depressed. The judge ordered no costs. The couple was represented by attorney Ganesh Saroop instructed by Robert Abdool-Mitchell while attorney Whitney Jacobs represented the insurance company.