The State is set to pay compensation to a petroleum engineer, whose car was seized by police as part of a stolen vehicle investigation in 2013 and is yet to be returned.
When the lawsuit brought by Mario Maraj came up for hearing before Justice Frank Seepersad in December last year, the Office of the Attorney General asked for time to hold settlement talks with Maraj’s lawyers.
At the time, Seepersad sought to highlight the need for the dispute to be resolved urgently.
“Police apparently acted arbitrarily. That is cause for concern and the court has to be vigilant so as to ensure that authority is not abused,” he said.
Seepersad was yesterday called upon to enter a consent order between the parties, under which the State accepted liability.
The compensation owed to Maraj will now have to be assessed by a High Court Master at a later date.
According to court filings obtained by Guardian Media, in May 2012, Maraj purchased the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy from a third party for $17,500.
Maraj then expended almost $37,000 to perform repairs on the vehicle, which took five months to complete.
In November 2012, Maraj sought to supplement his income by renting the vehicle to a third party to use for private hire.
Two months later, the man he rented the car to was involved in a minor accident.
While the car was being repaired, police visited the garage and seized the vehicle, which they claimed was stolen.
Maraj was arrested, but was released without being charged. The vehicle still remains impounded.
“In consequence of the matters aforesaid the claimant has suffered and continues to suffer tremendous loss, hardship, distress, and damage,” his lawyer Darryl Heeralal said in his court filings.
Through the lawsuit, Maraj was seeking a declaration that he is entitled to the vehicle, an order securing its release to him and damages for the detention and trespass on the vehicle.
He was also seeking compensation for depreciation of the vehicle over the course of its detention or its $65,000 value when it was seized.
Maraj was also seeking payment of the $900 in weekly rental fees he would have received during the period, if it had not been seized.