A physical education teacher, whose ability to work was cut short after a 13-pound shot-put slug fell on her foot seven years ago, has been awarded close to one million dollars in compensation by a Master of the High Court.
Ann-Marie Charles, who now resides in Toronto, Canada, was teaching at the Malabar Composite School when the incident occurred at around 9.45 a.m. on September 6, 2006.
Charles, 47, was in the physical education storeroom when the iron slug rolled off a shelf, from a height of about five feet, and landed on her right foot.
In her lawsuit in which she was represented by attorneys Kent Samlal and Abdel Mohammed, Charles said she immediately cried out in pain. With the assistance of a member of the school's maintenance staff, Charles sat on a chair and removed her shoe to assess the injury.
"I saw that my right ankle was already changing colour to reddish blue and beginning to start swelling," Charles said.
"I tried to get up and walk but I could not. The pain from my foot made me collapse back onto my seat. I could not place any weight on my ankle or foot at all."
Charles said the pain from the injury was the most intense pain she ever experienced in her life.
She was taken to the Arima Health Facility where her foot was examined. Charles was told that her foot was not broken but that she had suffered ligament damage. She was ordered to keep off her foot and was given five days sick leave. Charles said her ankle had swollen to twice its normal size and had become blue-black.
Unable to return to work at the end of the five-day period, Charles went to the Casualty department of the Port of Spain General Hospital where her foot was again examined and she was given three days sick leave.
She decided to visit her family doctor on September 15, 2006 and was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon whom she continued to visit for three years. The orthopaedic surgeon, in March 2009, advised Charles that she would have to undergo surgery to reduce her pain.
An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan was ordered by another orthopaedic surgeon to whom Charles went for a second opinion and she was also advised that she needed surgical intervention to reconstruct the ligament in her ankle.
Surgery was performed on July 11, 2009 at a private nursing home and complete bed rest was ordered for two months.
Charles said since her injury she is unable to stand on her foot for over 10 to 15 minutes without experiencing pain. She now walks with the aid of a walking stick and is unable to drive.
Through her attorneys from Freedom House Chambers, Charles filed a lawsuit in September 2010 against the State on the ground of negligence.
The State was ordered by Master Patricia Sobion-Awai to pay special damages in the sum of $64,899.79 with interest in the sum of $25,232.22, general damages in the sum of $80,000 with interest in the sum of $23,827.80, loss of future earnings in the sum of 724,340.88 and legal costs in the sum of $59,514.89. The amount totalled $977,815.58.