• Kyodo

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A Kanazawa District Court judge has accidently ruled that the defendants in a damages suit over a traffic accident pay more than three times the amount originally determined by the court, officials said Saturday.

Nobuaki Watanabe on Friday ordered the defendants, including a dump-truck driver, to pay about 47 million yen to the family of a university student who was killed when his minibike hit a dump truck parked near a road construction site in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, in November 1998.

The amount included 3 million yen for legal fees.

Court officials said the defendants should have been ordered to pay about 14 million yen.

The error came to light Friday evening and Watanabe apologized to lawyers of both the plaintiffs and defendants. “It was my mistake and I have no excuse for that,” he said.

But the judge apparently has no intention of correcting the sentence ex officio, saying the defendants need to appeal to a higher court to correct the compensation amount.

The court ruled the dump-truck driver and his employer were 60 percent responsible for the accident because they neglected their duty to ensure the safety of vehicles passing the construction site.

It apportioned 40 percent of the blame to the student as he did not pay attention to traffic conditions.

When the judge calculated the damages amount in his ruling, however, he forgot to account for the student’s share of responsibility for the accident. The Code of Civil Procedure stipulates a court can rectify an error ex officio if a ruling is miscalculated.

In this case, however, the officials said it is impossible to correct the ruling as the compensation amount includes legal fees, which would also need to be recalculated were the damages amount changed.

The parents of the student were seeking 100 million yen in damages from the driver and his employer.

Four months after the accident, Ishikawa Prefectural Police sent papers to prosecutors on the driver for suspected professional negligence but the Kanazawa District Public Prosecutor’s Office later decided not to file criminal charges against him.

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