Africa-Press – Ghana. Gracefield School Limited, a private school at Oyarifa in Accra, has been put before the court over alleged negligence. On June 24, 2021, the School was said to have fed a five-year-old pupil with Banku (a local meal), which it allegedly knew the girl was allergic to.
The plaintiff, who is being represented by Mr Charles Kofi Kwadam, is claiming compensatory damages of GHC150,000 for the trauma, ill health and inconvenience suffered by the Minor.
The plaintiff is also claiming punitive damages against the school for putting the life of the Minor at risk regardless of being aware of her health condition (Corn or maize allergies).
The plaintiff is further seeking special damages of GHC 1,634.00 being the cost of seeking medical treatment for the Minor. The court heard that the Minor was enrolled in the School on April 23, 2021, and started on May 4, 2021
In a statement of claim, the Minor’s mother said she had informed the school of his (Minor’s) allergies. It said the mother, on the admission form, indicated that the Minor had allergic rhinitis, corn or maize and groundnut allergies.
“The defendant School, for this reason, had, prior to June 24, 2021 lunch, given the plaintiff alternative food whenever the Banku was served to other students for lunch.
“The defendant on June 24, 2021, at lunch, instead of serving the plaintiff with an alternative food, served the plaintiff with banku, which he was allergic to because it contained corn or maize,” the statement of claim said.
The court heard that because the Minor was starving by lunchtime, she ate about six morsels of the banku before the school’s lunchtime attendant changed it to a bowl of spaghetti for her.
The court was told that after school, the Minor fell asleep and woke up around 7 pm the same day and started vomiting profusely. “Plaintiff between 7 pm and 11 pm had vomited about 7 times,” the statement of claim said.
The court heard that she was rushed to two different hospitals and spent days on admission. She was said to have suffered a lot of physical pains with the vomiting leaving her weak and dehydrated.
Again, he suffered emotionally and psychologically. The school’s administrator and class teacher were said to be informed about her plight and they promised that “they will not repeat that mistake again.”
Plaintiff held that the school had, however, not done anything to mitigate the harm it caused her or compensate her for the physical pain, trauma and distress. The school, in its statement of defence, denied some of the issues raised by the plaintiff.
The defendant said at all material times since the admission of the plaintiff at the school, its officers had constantly followed the instructions of her (plaintiff’s) mother and at no material time had the school failed to comply with instructions related to “her allergies.”
“…At no material time to the day in question did any of our officers make available to the Plaintiff banku in lieu of any other food to, which the plaintiff is not allergic.”
The defendant said on June 24, 2021, Plaintiff brought snacks to school where she ate them at about 10:00 am before lunch was served at 11:00 am and, therefore, she could not have been starving at lunchtime.
The school averred that during lunchtime, the Minor was served with spaghetti in sauce only. The defendant said after lunch, the Minor ate the rest of her snacks, which she had brought from home, and he did not show any sign of sickness, weakness or allergic reaction whilst in the school.
The school further contended that any substance found in the vomit of the Minor could have been any chewed material and maintained that it did not “serve or make available banku” to the Minor.
According to the defendant, the Minor’s family had been making false and unfounded allegations against the school, a behaviour, which was unreasonable and denied the claims in their entirety, maintaining that the Minor was not entitled to any of his claims. Plaintiff has been cross-examined and the matter adjourned to July 15, 2022.