A 48-year-old policewoman from Tobago has lost her lawsuit over being wrongfully dismissed after she injured her ankle in a workplace accident almost eight years ago.
Delivering a decision, yesterday, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad upheld an application from the Office of the Attorney General to strike out Cpl Karen Wiltshire-James’ wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the State.
Seepersad noted that Wiltshire-James’ case was an abuse of process as she has a separate pending lawsuit seeking over $500,000 in compensation for her injury.
He said that her legal issues could adequately be dealt with in that case without the need for the other before him.
Seepersad said: “The Court is sympathetic to the Claimant’s issues of representation however those circumstances cannot be used to circumvent the clear abuse of process which arises in this matter.”
“Ultimately, the Claimant cannot and ought not to be allowed several bites at the same cherry,” he added.
Based on his ruling, Seepersad ordered Wilshire-James to pay the State’s legal costs for defending the second lawsuit before him.
In the original lawsuit, filed in November 2017, Wiltshire-James is claiming that the T&T Police Service (TTPS) was negligent in failing to provide a safe working environment at the Scarborough Police Station.
According to the evidence in the case, Wiltshire-James was walking in a corridor at the station on December 10, 2013, when a rim and tyre, which was being stored as evidence in an ongoing case, fell on her foot.
While the police prosecutor initially ignored the injury, she was forced to go to hospital the following day after she was unable to walk or stand for extended periods.
She was given several weeks of sick leave, which was extended after she attempted to return to work and continued to suffer pain and discomfort.
She claimed that she was then placed on extended sick leave without pay and her back pay for salary negotiations between 2011 and 2013 was withheld.
In response, the TTPS contended that Wiltshire-James fabricated her injuries.
According to its defence to the lawsuit, the TTPS is claiming that two senior officers walked through the corridor before her and did not see or hear when the alleged accident took place. It is also contending that, if it did occur, it was due to Wiltshire-James’ negligence.
It also claimed that the TTPS’s human resource department decided to freeze her salary and refuse to place her on injury leave as its internal investigations showed that her allegations were false.
In the lawsuit before Seepersad, Wiltshire-James claimed that she was also bypassed for promotion as she was placed on the merit list but was not promoted alongside her colleagues that had placed lower than her.
She claimed that she learned that her promotion was affected by issues with her injury.
She was represented by St Clair Michael O’Neil, Nadia Scott and Jashmin Sandy, while Kelisha Bello and Nisa Simmons represented the State.