54-year-old Carlos Martinez will have to pay in excess of thirty-one thousand dollars to the family of 16-year-old Liarinette Cowo and 26-year-old Cindy Cowo. On October 6, 2018, the two sisters were in the company of Martinez when he lost control of his vehicle around miles 71 and 72 of the George Price Highway causing it to plunge into the Mopan River. As a result, the two sisters were trapped inside the vehicle and subsequently died. At the conclusion of the case, Kareem Musa, the attorney for the plaintiff, Paulino Cowo, the father of the deceased sister, spoke with the media.
Kareem Musa, Attorney: “This is a matter brought by the Cowo family in particular the father of the two deceased young ladies Cindy and Liarinette Cowo who lost their lives tragically in a motor vehicle accident on October 6th 2018. If you recall the details of the accident the driver at the time, one Carlos Martinez, lost control of his motor vehicle and the motor vehicle plunged into the Mopan River, I believe it was somewhere between miles 72 and 73 and both of the young ladies lost their lives, both of them drowned. And so we brought an action on behalf of the father who was a dependent of Cindy Cowo; she at the time was working at Chen’s Restaurant as a waitress in Belmopan and so what happened she used to assist her father with the household expenses and so in a case like that you’re allowed to bring a case under the Torts Act for a dependent which is Mr.Paolino Cowo and so the judge handed down here decision today, she found that Mr.Carlos Martinez, his judgment was impaired as a result of consuming alcohol on that night and she found that he was fully responsible for plunging that motor vehicle into the Mopan River. And so in that regard, the family has received their justice. There’s no amount of money as you know that can bring back anybody’s loved one and so we then got into the issue of quantum of damages and so the court looks at the multiplier multiplicand formula in arriving at an adequate sum to award Mr.Cowo for his loss and they have found based on her earnings, she was merely a waitress but she applied a multiplier of I think it was eleven years of earnings and so it was that she awarded a total sum of $31,000 to Mr.Paolino Cowo on the loss of his daughter Cindy and the funeral expenses of $5,000. Many times the motor vehicle could give way, a tire might blow out and it’s in now way our fault but in this particular instance evidence came out under cross examination of the defendant Carlos Martinez in which he confirms that he had been drinking that night and up to ten minutes before he got in the vehicle he took three tequila shots, I mean that would impair anybody’s judgment and mental faculties as they take their motor vehicle onto the road. And so I think the inferences were sufficiently there and the court was able to conclude that this accident was caused by an impairment of his judgment as a result of consuming alcohol. So you can say that in this case it was definitely his fault. Of course if Mr.Martinez refuses to honor the court order we will have to exercise different options in terms of recovery on behalf of the Cowo family.”
Reporter: Is he able to pay? What type of job does he have?
Kareem Musa, Attorney: “From what I understand Mr.Martinez was or is a construction worker and I believe that he would be in a position to pay so we will see where it goes from here.”
The case was heard before Justice Shona Griffith and the defendant, Carlos Martinez, was represented by attorney Hurl Hamilton.