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Kenyan court compensates the family of Chinese tourist killed by hippo

By Edith Mutethya | | Updated: 2019-02-01 21:14
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The family of a Chinese tourist killed by a hippopotamus while holidaying at the Lake Naivasha Country Club in 2013 has been awarded $319,000 (Ksh31.9 million) in compensation. 

In her ruling on Thursday, lady justice Jacqueline Kamau ordered Lake Naivasha Country Club, owned by Sun Africa Hotels, to compensate Luo Jiyao and his wife, Wang Yiqing, for the death of their daughter Luo Yi, saying it was the responsibility of the facility to ensure that all guests are protected.

The court also however ruled that Luo's conduct was a contributing factor to her death.

The court was told that the deceased and her friends saw hippos from their room and went over to take photos, implying that the animals had encroached onto the hotel premises.

This encroachment, lady justice Kamau said, suggested the facility was negligent in allowing wild animals to come near an area used by visitors, and that it should have ensured the site's electric fence was in working order. 

"Any private individual who purports to construct a facility that interacts with nature and in particular where wild animals are not inhibited, has a duty to ensure that visitors are well protected," she said.

Luo, who died at the age of 28, was attacked by a stray hippo the night she checked into the hotel, April 21, 2013, at 10 pm. Her family sued the hotel, saying the killing had robbed them of their only child and breadwinner. 

In an interview with NTV, Patrick Lutta, Luo's family lawyer, said the judgement was fair, in that it acknowledged the responsibilities of both parties. 

Lutta said the ruling sends the message to hotels that they should ensure the safety of their visitors and employees.

"There is also the duty on the part of the visitors to ensure their own safety and that they should beware of wild animals and their own security," he said. 

Lutta said the judgment was ruled against the hotel based on the fact that it ought to have dug trenches to stop hippos from crossing from Lake Naivasha to the hotel property.

"The hotel also failed to maintain an electric fence that would have prevented wild animals from getting into the hotel," he said.

Lutta said the family was seeking compensation of $850,000 (Ksh85 million) but the judge reduced it to $319,000 (Ksh31.9 million), and further deducted 20 percent due the visitor's contributory negligence.

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