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(2019) LPELR-47829(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 31st day of May, 2019


Before Their Lordships

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUMAI BAYANG AKA'AHS Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

JOHN INYANG OKORO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria




MISS BUNMI OMOTOYE - Respondent(s)

Other Citations

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This appeal borders on Tort of Negligence.

The respondent, a business woman based in Port Harcourt obtained a requisition from a customer in Port Harcourt to supply some specific children's items which she had to source for in Lagos. She then travelled to Lagos on 25/7/2000 by the appellant's night bus. She purchased the items and returned to Port Harcourt on 28/7/200 using the same transport company. She travelled with the goods which were placed in the luggage compartment of the bus. At Owerri, some passengers disembarked and one of them complained that her goods were affected by the heat in one of the luggage compartments. The respondent's goods had to be taken down to allow the passengers disembarking at Owerri to claim their luggages before they were put back for the journey to Port Harcourt. On reaching Port Harcourt she discovered that her goods had been burnt by the heat from the luggage compartment. Because of the complaint the passenger who had disembarked at Owerri had made the respondent asked the bus attendant whether her goods were returned to safe compartment where the goods were kept from Lagos and he answered in the affirmative. Unfortunately this did turn out to be so since her goods were burnt by the heat. She then took out a Writ of Summons against the appellant alleging that the appellant owed her a duty of care but due to its negligence the goods were burnt and the customer who had made the requisition rejected them. She claimed a total of N1,121,700.00 in the Amended Statement of Claim. The learned trial Judge dismissed the claim.

The plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeal. The lower Court relying on Panalpina World Transport (Nig.) Ltd v. N.T. Wariboko (1975) ANLR 24 at 29 declared that the defendant was negligent in handling the goods belonging to the plaintiff. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal.

Aggrieved by the decision of the Court of Appeal, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

The appeal was determined on the following issues viz:

1. Whether the Court of Appeal was justified in holding that the Respondent proved her case against the Appellant. (Grounds 1, 2 & 4).
2. Whether the Court of Appeal was justified in holding that the High Court denied the Respondent of a fair hearing in its findings on the exemption clause contained in Exhibits A and B respectively. (Ground 3).

On the whole, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.

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