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Companies

Kenyatta family firm loses appeal for sacking plumber

Hellen Wasilwa
Justice Hellen Wasilwa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A firm owned by the Kenyatta family and Brookside Dairy has lost a court bid to compensate an elderly plumber Sh1.6 million for unlawful termination and use of his photograph without his consent.

Justice Hellen Wasilwa rejected an application filed by Gicheha Farms and Brookside Dairy seeking to set aside the judgment that was delivered on January 21.

In affidavits sworn by Ms Grace Manugu, the Human Resource Manager for the two companies, the firms indicated that they were condemned unheard, terming the court decision as an unfair trial.

The High Court in January awarded David Gicheru, 80, Sh1.5 million for use of his picture by Brookside and Sh139,200 including 11 months compensation on his Sh11,600 pay for unfair sacking by Gicheha Farms in 2018 when he complained about the image.

Ms Manugu said the firms became aware of the judgment on February 1, 2020 through reports in the Business Daily.

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But Justice Wasilwa found that the two firms were aware of the court proceedings because they did not deny receiving court papers from Mr Gicheru in October 2019.

"From that point on until judgment was delivered on January 21, 2020, the respondent still had an opportunity to seek directions and file their submissions. They did not do so," said Justice Wasilwa.

The judge said that failure by Mr Gicheru to serve the companies with a judgment notice did not negate the earlier proceedings where they got served with a mention notice and failed to attend court.

"In this court's view, the counsel for the respondents ignored their duty to the respondents and failed to attend court and file the necessary documents. This omission cannot be excused. The respondents are the author of their own misfortune and therefore the application to set aside the judgment is denied," ruled Justice Wasilwa.

Mr Gicheru was shown the door in 2018 after complaining when Brookside Dairy, which is majority owned by the Kenyatta family, used his picture in its calendar.

In 2017, Mr Gicheru said, he was photographed without his consent and Brookside published his image on various marketing media including calendars, which were used in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

His lawyer said that they had sought audience with the management for compensation, but nothing was forthcoming despite promises.

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