x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Officer loses case over training injuries

Lower courts had not considered major's culpability for events.

Abu Dhabi // The Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit by a mid-level military officer who sued the Armed Forces over lasting injuries caused by a training course, saying lower courts improperly ignored his role in the injury.

The ruling, issued in documents released yesterday, stated that in any case in which an employee sues a company for damages, the courts must consider whether the employee contributed to the accident or injury.

The officer, who was not identified, served as a major in the Armed Forces. He told the Supreme Court he was asked during a training course in 1996 to carry excessive weight in an "exaggerated" exercise that did not comply with military standards, although those standards were not detailed in the court documents.

Ten years later, on March 11, 2006, he fell during another training exercise and was taken to a hospital. Medical tests showed he had suffered previous lasting injuries to his back, with nerve damage in some areas. He was retired two days later.

The officer then sued in the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of First Instance, saying the injuries that led to the retirement were caused by the exaggerated training.

He told the court he had suffered material losses because he was no longer able to carry out any jobs, and his early retirement prevented him from promotion and higher income. He added that the decision caused him to lose his "social status" as a military officer.

On March 3, 2010, the court ordered the Armed Forces to pay him 25 per cent of the value of full disability. The military was also ordered to pay Dh2 million in damages. The Armed Forces appealed and the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals overturned the decision.

The appeals court ruled that the lawsuit had passed the three-year statute of limitations for filing disability damage cases. The case was then referred to the Supreme Court.

The officer told the court the lower court had erred because the three-year statute began at the point where the damages became known, not when the injury occurred.

The Supreme Court accepted that argument. "The medical tests established the cause of the injuries and their effect," wrote Dr Abdulwahab Abdool, president and chief justice of the Supreme Court, in the ruling issued on January 26. "That should be taken as evidence of the plaintiff's certain knowledge of the damage, not before he received the results."

But the Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit as a whole on a technicality: neither lower court had considered the officer's culpability in the original incident, regardless of whose fault the injury actually was.

The decision by the Supreme Court is final.