Aussie woman injured in ITDC hotel awarded Rs 6.7 crore

HC awards over Rs 6.7 crore to Aussie woman injured in ITDC hotelNEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today asked an ITDC hotel here to pay over Rs 6.7 crore (including simple interest) as damages to an Australian swimmer who became paralyzed below the waist after slipping in a swimming pool of the hotel 36 years ago.

A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and S K Misra awarded the amount while dismissing the appeal of ITDC against the High Court’s 2011 decision, holding the hotel management “negligent” and responsible for poor upkeep of the pool and directing it to pay damages to Susan Leigh Beer.

“The total decretal sum shall thus be modified to Rs 1,83, 24,906.39 (Rupees one crore eighty three lakhs twenty four thousand, nine hundred and six and paise thirty nine only).

The interest rate, for the reasons discussed earlier, shall be 9.17 per cent per annum from date of suit (22.01.1982) till the date of the decree (03.03.2011) and 10 percent future simple interest,” the bench said.

Dismissing ITDC’s appeal, the bench said “the appeal, as is evident, is bereft of merit. This Court is constrained to observe that the pendency of the suit was largely due to the stand of ITDC in carrying out a long and protracted exercise of recording the deposition of witnesses.

“…The attempts to prove that plaintiff (Susan Leigh Beer) was a liar despite clear and convincing answers from her end shows a stubborn desire to somehow wrest arguing points for the final hearing. The transcript of oral depositions – a reading of which was at once revealing and disconcerting, highlighted the futility of the process in this case”, the bench said.

The bench observed the line of questioning adopted by ITDC showed the public sector organization “in a poor light as callous and insensitive”.

“The line of questioning also showed ITDC in a poor light as callous and insensitive. That it is a public sector organization only aggravates the disregard for the suffering undergone by the plaintiff,” it said.

In its 2011 judgment, the high court had observed that Susan, who was 17 when the incident had taken place, suffered from Quadriplegic, paralysis of all four limbs – both arms and both legs –
after receiving head and spinal chord injuries during the jump in the swimming pool of Akbar Hotel here on the evening of May 5, 1978.

Susan, who was a member of Queensland women’s polo team and is now wheel chair-bound, had come to India on a holiday along with her parents and brother.

Considering the plea that she became disabled and suffered mental trauma after the incident, the court had awarded her Rs 1.82 crore with six per cent interest from 1982 till 2011.

While upholding that judgment, the division bench today increased the rate of interest to 9.17 per cent and also awarded Rs 75,000 as litigation expenses to Susan.–PTI

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