Privy Council upholds record $2M award to abuse victim

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Privy Council upholds record $2M award to abuse victim

The Privy Council has restored an award of almost $2 million in damages to a young man who was bullied and abused sexually at the St Michael’s Boys Industrial School and the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital.

The London-based court, in a landmark judgment on Monday overturned the Court of Appeal’s decision and restored the initial compensatory and vindicatory damages that were awarded by the trial judge.

The amount was reduced to $844,650, wiping out the $1 million in vindicatory damages. The damages was the highest sum ever awarded in a local case.
In their decision, Privy Council judges, Lords Hodge, Leggatt, Burrows, Richards and Lady Rose restored Quinlan-Williams award of $921,200 in compensatory damages and $1 million in vindicatory damages.

The total amount is to be paid into the court and put in an interest-bearing account and from it, payments are to be used for the teenager’s expenses for his care, treatment, welfare and accommodation and can only be disbursed on an application to the High Court registrar or a Master.

The young man, now 19, and identified only as JM, is represented by attorney Anand Ramlogan, who says their battle is not yet over.

JM is still institutionalised at a state-run facility, since his mother still lives under impoverished circumstances and does not have the finances to care for him and her home was deemed unsuitable.

“The mother is relieved and happy (at the ruling) but still sad at the fact that she has not yet been reunited with her son. The mother is struggling, unemployed and she loves her son very dearly and wants to try and provide a more loving, nurturing environment for them,” Ramlogan said following yesterday’s Privy Council ruling.

“We have an application before the court for the state to pay for the home and the Privy Council judgment will certainly help to expedite the application,” he said.

Ramlogan said the money spent by the state to fight the case over the past five years could have been better used to build a home for JM and his mother so that he could receive the rehabilitation and care he needs.

“We remain concerned that the child remains in the care of the state and whether he is still a victim of sexual abuse and torture, having regard to the history of abuse at state institutions and homes run by the state, and his vulnerability.”