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Court Awards N1.1m Damages Against Ethiopian Airline Over Wilful Misconduct Against Passenger

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has awarded the sum of N1 million damages against the Ethiopian Airline consequent upon a suit instituted by one of its passengers, Engr. Femi Alao for the embarrassment, untold hardship, humiliation and mental stress he suffered for being abruptly told by the airline to pay the sum of N258,342.00 on the day he was to travel.

The court also awarded the sum of N100,000 as costs against the airline in favour of the plaintiff.

Besides, the court ruled that the airline should pay 10 percent interest per annum as post judgement interest.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made the awards while delivering judgement in suit number FHC/L/CS/1569/2018 filed by Engr, Femi Alao against the Ethiopian Airline for the said infraction.

The Plaintiff had filed the suit by a writ of summons dated September 25, 2018.

According to the plaintiff’s statement of claim dated September 24, 2018, the plaintiff’s claims against the Ethiopian Airline, is for an order mandating the airline to refund the sum of N258, 342.00 being the additional fee which the airline imposed on him on the day he was scheduled to travel without prior notice, thereby causing him great embarrassment,untold hardship and humiliation.

The plaintiff also claim an Interest on the said sum of N258,342.00 at the rate of 21 percent per annum from the 25th day of June 2017 until judgement is given and until liquidation of the judgement sum.

“An award of the sum of N10,000,000 as exemplary and general damages for subjecting him to embarrassment, untold hardship, humiliation and mental stress.

“An award of the sum of N1,000, 000 assessed as the cost of the action.”

However, the Ethiopian Airline in it’s statement of defence dated February 5, 2019 and filed same day , challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.

Delivering judgement in the suit, justice Aneke summarised the processes filed and submissions of the parties.

On the issue of jurisdiction raised by the airline, the judge held that the court has the jurisdiction to decide the instant suit.

On plaintiff’s additional statement on oath, raised by the defendant, Justice Aneke held that the additional statement on oath made by the plaintiff is admissible in evidence, adding that ; “After all, it was tendered during the trial and the defendant did not raise any objection.” the judge noted.

On issues 3 and 5, the judge said ” This court is of the opinion that on the facts and circumstances of the case, the defendant committed wilful misconduct when it was notified that the plaintiff has changed his travel date and the defendant changed the travel date without notifying the plaintiff that he has to pay additional fees knowing fully well that it tends to charge the plaintiff additional fees “.

In concluding the judgement, Justice Aneke held as follows:

“On the plaintiff claim of No 1 and 2, this court will not award to the plaintiff the sum claimed because it is part of the Plaintiff’s fares

“On issue No 3, this court will award to the plaintiff the sum of N1 million as damages for the embarrassment, untold hardship, humiliation and mental stress which the plaintiff had to undergo for being told to pay the sum of N 258, 342.00 on the day he was to travel.

“This court also awards to the plaintiff 10 percent interest per annum as post judgement interest.

“N100,000 costs is awarded in favour of the plaintiff to be paid by the defendant.

“All other claims of the plaintiff are hereby dismissed.
“This is the judgement of this court”

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