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Maasai Mara Lodge to part with over Sh400m for negligence

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The Lodge was sued after a Chinese tourist was stabbed to death in 2016.

In Summary 

  • Through his advocate Conrad Maloba, Yi told the court it was because of the lodge’s negligence that Changpin was able to attack them.
  • Yi stated that he had opted to blame the hotel because if it had had sufficient security, the incidence would have been avoided.

Almost eight years ago, Kenya was treated to a shock with headlines in both local media and international reporting of an unexpected fatality at Maasai Mara.

On August 8, 2016, Dong Yi and his wife Luo Jinli aged 45 years checked in to Sun Africa Hotels t/a Keekorok Lodge Maasai Mara.

As the day came to an end, the couple went to the restaurant for their meal and while there, an altercation occurred that would change their lives forever.

The squabble happened in Chinese between the couple and one Lee Changpin, who accused them of occupying the table that had been reserved for him.

As the argument ensued, Changpin left the table only to return with a steak knife which he used to stab both Yi and Jinli.

Jinli succumbed to the injuries while Yi, who had been stabbed in the belly and arm was rushed to Nairobi for treatment.

Three years later on August 5, 2019, Yi moved to the High Court at Narok blaming Keekorok Lodge for negligence.

Through his advocate Conrad Maloba, Yi told the court it was because of the lodge’s negligence that Changpin was able to attack them.

He prayed for general damages for pain and suffering, damages under the Fatal Accidents Act, damages for loss of dependency, damages for loss of life expectation and special damages of Sh2,065,100.

Yi told the court that before her death, his wife was a security manager in Beijing where she earned two million yuan.

This, he said, was not average and depended on dividends and other elements.

He notified the court that in their society dependants include Jinli’s mother, his mother and himself.

Yi stated that he had opted to blame the hotel because if it had had sufficient security, the incident would have been avoided.

He added that during the first confrontation, there was no intervention by any hotel employee or security.

This resulted in his argument that the lodge had not quantified its duty of care towards him and his late wife.

On its part, Keekorok Lodge said there were adequate security measures at all times, arguing that the couple and their guide failed to report the incident despite having the opportunity to.

It said the incident was so remote that it could not have been reasonably foreseen.

The court heard that the lodge did not place guards inside the dining hall and that the weapon used, a steak knife, was on the tables for the purpose of eating not stabbing.

The lodge blamed the assigned tour guide saying he ought to have acted.

At the same time, it did not dispute that it owed Yi and Jinli a duty of care but argued that it had breached it.

It stated that the occurrence of an injury or harm on an occupier’s premises was not enough to warrant an occupier’s negligent liability.

An occupier’s liability is a specific type of negligence involving damage caused by a breach of a duty of care.

According to the legal dictionary, a duty of care is a legal responsibility of a person or organisation to avoid behaviors or omissions that could reasonably be foreseen to cause harm to others.

Keekorok Lodge argued that there was no causation link between its conduct and the event causing harm and loss to Yi and his late wife.

“Mr Changpin is personally liable for the stabbing and for the damage suffered by the plaintiff (Yi) and the deceased,” it argued.

Noting the arguments, it stated that Yi was not entitled to any reliefs sought.

Upon determination, Narok High Court Judge Francis Gikonyo found that the use of eating knives as weaponry is foreseeable as is fighting in restaurants.

“In light thereof, the court finds and holds the defendant (Keekorok Lodge) to be wholly liable for breach of duty of care to the plaintiff and the deceased,” he stated.

On the reliefs sought, the judge found that Sh100,000 for pain and suffering that reasonable.

Ruling that Jinli was depended upon by her child, mother, mother -in-law and husband, Justice Gikonyo found dependent is proven.

He noted that since Jinli was 45 years old, it is reasonable to say she would have worked up to 60 years.

Considering the uncertainties of life, he used a multiplier of 15 years to calculate the relief for loss of life expectancy.

On a dependent ratio of 2/3, the court calculated the same to amount to 21,598,670 Chinese Yuan (Sh426,141,759.1).

The court also awarded Sh727,000 for death and funeral expenses incurred, and RDM 23,728 on special damages.

In a separate case, Changpin has since been charged with murder. 


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