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State must pay for boy's beating *LINK*

Court rules against corporal punishment -

Wednesday 27th April 2005

IN a landmark High Court judgment yesterday against corporal punishment in schools, a judge ordered the State to pay $40,000 to a boy who was beaten nine years ago at a government secondary school.

The order was made by Justice Gregory Smith in the Port-of-Spain Second Civil Court, in favour of Keane Davis, a former pupil of the Vessigny Government Secondary School, La Brea, South Trinidad.

Davis, 16, was administered ten strokes to the buttocks by the principal of the school on November 8, 1996. Davis' mother, Brenda Johnson, filed a lawsuit through attorneys Sunil Gopaul-Gosine, instructed by Martha St Hillaire-Noel, against the attorney general for the alleged negligent action of the principal. In her lawsuit filed in the Sub-registry in San Fernando, Johnson stated that Davis suffered from a heart condition and the beating could have caused serious injury.

According to the lawsuit, Davis was hospitalised for one week after the beating. He suffered severe pain in his right leg, and was unable to straighten the leg due to swelling and tenderness of the thigh.

Johnson stated in court documents filed in the lawsuit that school officials knew that her son had a double valve replacement in 1992 at age 12. He could suffer trauma, she stated, if he received physical blows like the kind administered to him.

Johnson stated that her son did not take part in school sports to safeguard himself against bleeding or bruises. Yesterday, attorney Margaret Thurab, appearing on behalf of the State, informed Justice Smith that the State had accepted liability for negligence on the part of the principal, who acted as servant and/or agent of the State.

On the grounds of the negligence lawsuit, Johnson claimed that the principal failed to take reasonable care or was reckless in physically beating her son without regard to his physical well-being. It was also alleged that the principal failed to take due care of her son in relation to his health condition.

Justice Smith ordered the State to pay Davis $40,000 in damages in addition to interest at a rate of six percent per annum from the date of the filing of the lawsuit - October 1997. The State was also ordered to pay the family's legal cost. Relatives of Davis said yesterday that the boy and his family were abroad.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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