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Achimota School’s Negligence Caused Death of Student — High Court

The parents of the student asked the court to declare that the defendants owed a duty of care to to their child to provide him with prompt and appropriate medical care

Seven years and six months after his death, the family of 15-year-old Kervin Kofi Moses has now realised justice, following the High Court’s declaration that Achimota School was negligent by failing to provide the residential General Arts student with proper medical care, a situation which ultimately resulted in his death.

“It is my conclusion that Dominic Danso (Housemaster of Fraser House) breached his duty of care to the deceased,“ Justice Comfort Kwasiwor Tasiame held in a judgement dated May 28, 2024, wondering why one of the two housemasters of Fraser House could not even accompany the seriously sick student to the hospital.

The trial judge said “the attitude of Mr Danso, showing no remorse at all when he was in the witness box to give evidence and during cross-examination” had rendered “Sonia Ofori-Ansong, now childless in this our Ghanaian community where high premium is placed on children”.

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The judge consequently slapped the defendants (Mr Danso, Achimota Secondary School Board of Governors, and the Office of the Attorney-General) with a cost of GH¢400,000 as general damages, GH¢200,000 as damages for loss of expectation of life, and another cost of GH¢10,000 in favour of the plaintiffs.

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The court, however, said it could not grant the relief asking it to order the defendants, especially the Achimota School, to commemorate the death of Moses annually.

Background

Per the facts accompanying the suit, Moses was admitted at Achimota Senior High School in October 2016. Sonia Ofori-Ansong, mother of Moses, deposed that on November 28, 2016, his only son called her complaining that he was unwell.

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According to the mother, her son said he felt he had malaria, and that he (Moses) sought medical attention from the school clinic and was given ibuprofen with the explanation that he did not have malaria.

Ms Ofori-Ansong said she called Mr Danso and requested to send the child to the hospital, but he did not allow her. According to her, the Housemaster insisted the child was doing well.

On December 2, 2016, Ms Ofori-Ansong received a call from Mr Danso requesting her to meet them at the Achimota Government Hospital because Moses had been taken to the hospital.

“Moses was later transferred to 37 Military Hospital on the request of his mother on December 3, 2016, but the student died the following day, December 4, 2016.
Based on this, Ms Ofori-Ansong and one Gerald Nyarko instituted legal action against the defendants.

They t, which they said the defendants breached, resulting in Moses’ death from a treatable malaria attack.

They also asked the court for special damages in the sum of GH¢2 million being cost of medical and funeral expenses, and loss of dependency/prospective income for the loss of Moses.

Other reliefs, including general damages for the pain, emotional and psychological trauma caused thereby to plaintiffs and for counselling and related support to plaintiffs as a result of the death of Moses, and an order directed at the defendants to commemorate the death of Moses on a yearly basis forever.

Appreciation

Meanwhile, Child Rights International (CRI) which provided legal guidance and support to the parents, has expressed appreciation to a legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, who conducted the case on pro bono basis.

A statement signed by its Executive Director, Bright Appiah, called for reforms in the country’s educational system by redefining rules and regulations to prioritise children’s interests as highlighted by the court’s judgment in the best interest of the child.

“This call for reforms in protocols governing the welfare of children to ensure their well-being takes precedence over institutional concerns,” the statement said.

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