2.Name of Case: Ramlal Bajnath v Southern Medical Clinic Limited and S.C.
Ramdial No. 608 of 1985
Presiding Judge: Master Occah Seapaul
On 6th February 1985 the Plaintiff, who is the Administrator of the Estate of Eileen Chandrawatee Bajnath who died on 15th May 1981, brought an action for medical negligence and/or breach of contract against the defendants alleging that the second named defendant was negligent in his treatment of the deceased while she was a patient under his care and that such negligence caused the death of the deceased.
On 22nd May 1987, the second named defendant applied for an Order that the plaintiffâ€™s Statement of Claim be struck out for the Plaintiffâ€™s Statement of Case to be struck out on the grounds that the claims were frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the Courtâ€™s process.
According to section 27 of the Medical Board Act of Trinidad and Tobago Chapter 29:50(repealed by Act No. 36 of 1997) inter alia, no member of the Medical Board or holder of a temporary licence shall be liable to any action for negligence for professional services rendered unless such action is commenced within one year from the date when such professional services terminated.
Counsel for the Plaintiff submitted that an action for negligence was a tort and an allegation of negligence may be a breach of contract. He submitted that the fact that the breach may also be negligence does not bring the case within section 27.
The basis for the alleged breach of contract is the alleged negligent treatment administered by the defendant to the deceased. This therefore falls under the ambit of section 27 and therefore any action based on the said breach of negligence ought to have commenced within one year from the date when the defendantâ€™s professional services terminated. Since the deceased died on 11th May, 1981, the time limited for commencing any action would have been on 10th May, 1982. The Order applied for by the second named defendant was granted.