Emirates Airlines have been ordered to pay a businessman, Mr. Orji Prince Ikem $1.630 million and N50 million for the loss of his luggage which went missing during a flight to China in 2007.
The $1.630 million represents the amount in the luggage while N50 million is the damages for his inability to have the use of his money since 2007.
The verdict was handed down on Monday by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos and presided over by Justice Muslim Hassan, who ordered Emirates Airlines to pay Ikem N50million as damages for the “untold hardship and loss of earning” he suffered by the deprivation of use of his money from 2007 till date.
Justice Hassan gave the judgment, bringing to a halt the plaintiff’s nearly 12 years battle to recover two hand luggage containing his personal effects and $700,000, as well as $930,000 in 18 bundles of $50,000 wraps each and $30,000 cash not in wrap.
Ikem also told the court that the $930,000 belonged to another businessman, Olisaemeka Ugwunze, who wanted it delivered in China for purchases.
According to the plaintiff, staff of Emirates Airlines had approached him at the departure lounge of the Muhammed International Airport Ikeja, and requested that he handed the luggage to them for safe keeping in the cockpit, but he refused and insisted on keeping them himself.
Ikem said they insisted on keeping the luggage for him considering the huge amount of money contained therein and that on arrival at destination, the two bags would be handed over to him.
According to the plaintiff, he gave in to the request after a prolonged argument so as not to miss his flight, adding that he handed over the two hand carry-on bags to them, and they were tagged with tag numbers EK428682 and EK428683, respectively.
He however said that the last time he saw those bags was when he handed them over, saying that on his arrival in Guangzhou, the airline could not account for his four luggage.
While ruling on the prayers of the plaintiff, for the return of his $1.630million and N100million general damages, Justice Hassan observed that the airline, through its counsel, Prof. Awah Kalu (SAN), failed to refute Ikem’s claims.
The judge said: “I have read all the processes filed by both parties as well as their agreements and resolved that the only issue for determination is whether the plaintiff is entitled to the reliefs sought before this court.
“A claim not controverted is deemed admitted, in this case the defendants did not call witness but rather rests it case on that of the plaintiff which mean that all what the plaintiff claimed and their pleadings are admitted.
“I hold that Emirate Airlines failed in his obligations to customer by not delivering the luggage containing the sum of $1.630 million.
“On the whole I hereby make the following orders; An order that Emirates Airlines pay the plaintiff the sum of $1.630 million; an order that the defendant pay the sum of N50million to the defendant as damages.
“Parties shall bear their own respective costs.”
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