Municipality pulls out all possible stops to avoid paying family €105,000 for death of loved one

The municipality of Braga is continuing to balk at a court order to pay a widow and her two children the sum of €105,000 for the death of a loving husband and father almost seven years ago.

41-year-old João Sousa died after a “very large oak tree” fell on him in high winds in the town in May of 2015.

The family blamed council services for the death, proving that the tree ‘already showed signs of being rotten’.

The council however has always refuted this criticism, saying the tree “looked robust and healthy”, giving no indication that it would collapse as it did (due to ‘fragilities at the roots’). 

Council leader Ricardo Rio blamed the “absolutely extraordinary climatic circumstances” in which winds speeds reached gusts of 90 km/h.

In November, when the Braga’s administrative and fiscal court ordered the council to pay the family €105,000, lawyers Ana Eduarda Gonçalves and Bárbara Silva Soares fighting the case said: “We know no quantity of money will be enough to make up for the loss suffered, but with this payment without further delay by the council, this family can finally mourn this husband and father” without having to continue the exhausting battle for compensation.

Sadly, the pair spoke too soon. 

Today, Correio da Manhã writes that the “Câmara of Braga has appealed to the Central Administrative Court of the North”, insisting the tree showed ‘no signs of illness’ and was ‘in good condition’.

Covering this story just over a year ago, the O Minho newspaper stressed that Mr de Sousa’s widow has been “sad and with no joy for life” since her perfectly healthy husband was so tragically killed.

She has difficulties paying the expenses for her children’s education and the running of the home, said the paper – and the children have “suffered a lot with the loss of a loving father”. 

O Minho also referred to the fact that the council has civil liability insurance for damages “that may be caused to third parties in the pursuit of their attributions and competences”.

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