A retired police constable has won his lawsuit against the State over its two-year delay in paying his pension and gratuity after he left the T&T Police Service in 2019.
Delivering a judgment earlier this week, High Court Judge Ricky Rahim upheld retired PC Samuel Friday’s lawsuit as he ruled that the delay breached his constitutional rights.
According to the evidence in the case, Friday, of Fanny Village, Point Fortin, joined the TTPS in 1984 and retired in December 2019.
Friday filed the lawsuit after there were repeated delays in him receiving his pension and gratuity.
In the lawsuit, Friday claimed that the delay directly impacted his ability to pay his mortgage, with RBC Royal Bank threatening to sell his home to clear the $174,213.45 outstanding balance.
In September last year, Friday received a $178,585.84 cheque and one month later he received a $128,106.05 payment in his bank account.
In deciding the case, Rahim noted that under the Police Service Regulations, the Police Commissioner was required to initiate the administrative process to assess an officer’s pension and gratuity entitlements three months before they retired.
He noted that the process was initiated after Friday’s retirement and was also delayed by the fact that there had to be numerous checks of the classification of his sick leave during the course of his employment, as he missed long periods of work after being injured in 2011.
“In the court’s view, the fact that it took years to resolve issues of accuracy in the leave entitlement of the claimant has operated against the substance of the protection afforded by the due process set out in the regulations,” Rahim said, as he noted the delay was unreasonable.
He said his decision in Friday’s case did not mean that a similar delay in initiating the process for another officer would mean a breach of constitutional rights.
“Far from that assertion is the fact that each case must be considered on its own facts, as the process of verification may carry with it unique circumstances,” he said.
As part of his ruling, Rahim ordered that Friday be paid 2.5 per cent interest on the payments that he already received.
He also rejected a suggestion from the Office of the Attorney General that Friday should not receive vindicatory damages, as he had received his payments albeit late.
“The court does not accept that submission as being a result that does justice to the hardship faced by the retired police officer who appeared to be on the brink of losing the house in which he lived as a consequence of the failure to pay to him his entitlement within a reasonable period,” Rahim said, as he ordered $60,000 in additional compensation.
Friday was represented by Prakash Ramadhar and Ted Roopnarine.