Trinidad and Tobago
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Appeal Court reserves ruling on future of LifeSport lawsuit

Jada Loutoo File photo of SporTT chairman Douglas Camacho. Photo by Lincoln Holder
File photo of SporTT chairman Douglas Camacho. Photo by Lincoln Holder

TWO Appeal Court judges have reserved their ruling on an appeal by the Sport Company of TT (SporTT) of the striking out its claim of negligence against its former CEO and 13 ex-board members arising from the failed LifeSport programme.

On Tuesday, Justices of Appeal Peter Rajkumar and Ronnie Boodoosingh reserved their decision after hearing from attorneys from SporTT and the 14.

In November, last year, Justice Ricky Rahim struck out the company’s claim because “it could not be sustained in the absence of proof of actual loss or damage,” which he said was a crucial element of the tort of negligence.

He also struck out a claim for equitable compensation of $34 million, which SporTT was seeking, in relation to a contract signed by the former board in June 2013.

Immediately after his ruling, SporTT’s attorneys appealed his decision. The trial has been set for September 10-October 1, 2024, at the Waterfront Judicial Centre, Port of Spain.

Named as defendants in the claim are former directors Sebastian Paddington, Chlea Lamsee-Ebanks, Reynold Bala, Morris Blanc, Nisa Dass, Anly Gopeesingh, Sabrenah Khayyam, Cheemattee Martin, Matthew Quamina, Annan Ramnansingh, Kent Samlal, Harnarine Seeram Singh, Milton Siboo and former CEO John Mollenthiel.

In its appeal, SporTT is asking for its negligence claim and relief for the repayment of the $34 million to be reinstated. The company also said the judge was wrong in striking out the negligence aspect of the claim and erred in law.

In submissions on Tuesday, Colin Kangaloo, who leads the SporTT’s legal team, insisted that his client raised a prima facie case against the 14 and its evidence should have been interrogated at trial.

He also insisted there were sufficient pleadings on the loss suffered by the company arising out of

contract with eBeam Interact Ltd in June 2013.

Kangaloo took the judges through the evidence, arguing that there were payments to eBeam which had not been repaid.

“Our loss was $34 million, which we have set out.” Kangaloo also said the company was asking for common-law damages and equitable compensation.

“As is normal in these types of cases, on the evidence, the full amount may not be proven.”

However, he said the court could award the $34 million for negligence or any amount it saw fit.

“It is proper pleading. It is clear what the case is. There was the sufficient pleading of loss.”

Kangaloo also said nominal damages could be awarded if a wrong was proven.

“If proof of loss had fallen short, we can get equitable compensation or nominal damages.

This is a case on documents and the court has to interpret the documents and give meaning to them.”

He said the judge’s findings did not show this was done.

“The judge can place a value on what is stated on the evidence,” Kangaloo said, adding that Rahim also deprived himself of interrogating the facts.

“It was a pre-emptive strike out.”

In reply, King’s Counsel Anand Beharrylal said SporTT should have brought a breach of contract proceedings against e-Beam if it wanted to recover any money.

He said Rahim was “correct” in the way he treated the application to strike out and SporTT cannot now come and ask for nominal damages since that relief had been abandoned.

Beharrylal also maintained that there was insufficient evidence by the company to justify the claims against the former board members.

“There is no ascertainable evidence of loss.” He also said the assistance of the Ministry of Sport could have been elicited to fill whatever gaps there were in the evidence.

“Much of the evidence of loss is imagination. This was a programme funded and managed by the government.”

The 14 defendants are asking for SporTT’s lawsuit against them to be dismissed.