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Appellate court upholds Sh2.4m award to former Kari employee

 When a section of KARI employees protested against alleged land grabbing in Naivasha. [File, Standard]

The Court of Appeal awarded a former Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) employee Sh2.4 million for injuries suffered while at work.

Justices Sankle Ole Kantai, David Musinga and Lydia Achode dismissed a Machakos High Court decision issued on January 20, 2016, that set aside a magistrate's judgment against Nickson Muthoka Mutava.

Mutava had been employed by Kari as a casual worker. He said that was instructed by his employer to connect irrigation pipes and while he was doing so, he was electrocuted and suffered serious electrical burns.

He lost his left leg and was admitted to the Machakos General Hospital from January 14, 2008, to May 12, 2008. Mutava said his employer was negligent, which led to the accident, and he sought compensation and that Kari takes care of his future medical bills.

Kari, however, denied any responsibility for the injuries and said that Mutava was solely to blame as he had “negligently exposed himself to danger.”

Mutava’s testimony included medical records from the Machakos General Hospital and a friend who witnessed the accident.

The trial magistrate found that the accident had occurred due to an external factor-live wires by Kenya Power-and the case had not been proved before dismissing it.

Mutava moved to the High Court in Machakos, where the judge while awarding him Sh3 million found that he had contributed to the accident to the extent of 20 per cent, leading to the subtraction of Sh609,429.

Kari then moved to the Court of Appeal where they argued that the judge had failed to properly evaluate the evidence presented and arrived at the wrong conclusion on who was to blame for the accident.

They also wanted the jduges to find that the High Court decision was in error since the judge found that Mutava had seen the wires but he was not to blame for the accident.

They argued that Mutava should have sued Kenya Power and not Kari since the company had a duty to citizens by making sure that they are unharmed by the electricity they supply.

But Mutava said that Kari did not give him protective equipment like gloves or gumboots which subjected him to an unsafe working environment. 

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