The lawyers representing the Nineteen (19) families of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) victims who filed a lawsuit seeking justice for their children’s tragic death, allegedly caused by cough syrup manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceutical Company, have expressed total disappointment for the State’s refusal to appear in court to answer to the lawsuit file against the Gambia government.
The lawsuit named Maiden Pharmaceutical Company as the first defendant, Atlantic Pharmaceuticals Company as the second defendant, Medicines Control Agency as the third defendant, the Ministry of Health as the fourth, and the Ministry of Justice as the fifth defendant.
However, during the case court hearing before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh, the state/defendants were not in Court, prompting the lawyers for the victim to express disappointment over how the State is treating the lawsuit.
Counsel Loubna Farage, Y. Senghore, and F. Sanyang, representing the plaintiffs, informed the Court that they received a motion of notice from the State on July 31, 2023.
The motion requested an extension of time from the State to file their defense. Counsel Farage informed the Court that they were only served with the mactionon October 11. In response, they filed their affidavit in opposition on October 19, 2023.
Counsel Farage expressed disappointment that, after four months, the State had failed to provide any statement of defense. She further noted that while the plaintiffs had been attending court proceedings in their pursuit of justice, the State had refused to appear.
“We are disappointed that after four months, the State did not come up with anything. More disappointingly, the State is nowhere to be found in Court,” Counsel Farage told the High Court judging sitting in Banjul.
Counsel Farage explained that the motion of notice had been filed on behalf of the 1st and 2nd defendants. Still, ‘it only aimed to grant leave for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th defendants to file their processes out of time. No other processes were filed.’
Counsel then requested the Court to dismiss the motion with costs, as the 90-day period had elapsed.
“My lord, we have filed our affidavit in opposition, and as per our calculations, the 90-day period has elapsed. We request that the motion of notice be dismissed with costs,” Counsel Farage sought.
In his ruling, Justice Jaiteh agreed with Counsel Farage’s arguments and deemed the July 31st motion of notice to be dismissed. The judge highlighted that the 3rd, 4th, and 5th defendants had failed to file their defense within the 90-day timeframe and were absent from the court proceedings.
Justice Jaiteh highlighted that during the previous adjournment, counsel Binga D, L.S. Jobarteh, A. A Gibba and S. Jawara had represented the state law office. Still, they chose to stay away without providing any reason.
The judge acknowledged that the notice motion had been pending for nearly four months without any other processes filed by the State., which led him to believe that the state law office needed to be more diligent in defending the suit.
Justice Jaiteh emphasized that the motion of notice is merely circulated to delay the proceedings; otherwise, the State would have filed the process if they were diligent in defending the suit.
For these reasons, Justice Jaiteh disallowed the motion of notice from serving as a defendant in the case; he struck out the motion of notice. In addition, a cost of 10,000.00 was awarded in favor of the plaintiff and against the 3rd, 4th, and 5th defendants in the interest of justice.
Counsel Farage then informed the Court that the 2nd defendant had been served, but they had not received any response. She requested the Court to consider the process as being returned to the Gambia due to the inability to carry out substitute service by advertisement, which would have omitted the status of the case in compliance with rules in India.
“We apply for the court to amend the order of July 21, 2023, to the statutory of service,” Counsel Farage requested.
Justice Jaiteh ruled that the order of July 21 be renewed, subject to necessary amendments. This renewal involved deleting any other accompanying processes besides the wit process.
The case was adjourned to November 7, 2023, at 14:30 for further mention, with a hearing notice to be issued accordingly.