Lodge ordered to pay tourist Sh37m (Kenya)


Brian Wasuna, The Star

Date Published
Kirinyaga-based Castle Forest Lodge has been ordered to pay Sh37 million to the widower of an American tourist killed by an elephant alongside her one-year-old baby in 2010.
Sharon Mary Brown and her daughter were trampled to death in Mount Kenya Forest Reserve while they were on a nature walk guided by a Castle Forest Lodge employee.
Jeffrey Brown, an American from New Hampshire, had sued for Sh260 million.
High Court judge Jairus Ngaah ruled that the lodge owed Brown and his family a duty of care for the duration of their stay in their facility.
The judge said despite the accident occurring outside Castle Forest Lodge’s premises, Brown and his family had paid the facility for the nature walk and it provided them with one of its employees for the excursion. 
“There is no doubt that being Castle Forest Lodge’s guests, Brown and his family were persons who were so closely and directly affected by Castle Forest Lodge’s acts or omissions that it reasonably ought to have had them in contemplation when it led them to a nature walk deep inside the forest,” the judge ruled.
Brown told the court the lodge’s employees had pressed him and his family to take the nature walk when they checked in on January 4, 2010. He was with his brother and his sister-in-law.
Brown said it was only after the rest of the family discussed the matter in the evening that they agreed to take the walk.
The tourists took the walk in single file, with the tour guide, Ibrahim Maina, in front and Brown at the back. About 20 minutes into the walk, the group branched off the usual course and into Mount Kenya Forest. After about 40 minutes, the tour guide came sprinting towards the rest of the group shouting at them to run.
Maina told the court that Brown’s wife stepped into the elephant’s path and it shifted its focus from him to her. The jumbo tossed her in the air twice before stepping on her abdomen, which Brown said he also witnessed. 
Castle Forest Lodge managing director Melia Van Laar had insisted that the facility was only responsible for the tourists while they were within its 25-acre premises.
But Justice Ngaah ruled that being in the company of one of the lodge’s employees for a paid for walk, Castle Forest Lodge was responsible for the tourists.