FORMER Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran was awarded $150,000 yesterday to be paid by the Sunshine newspaper, for a December 2016 article about his then ongoing divorce.
In a 17-page judgement handed down by Master Martha Alexander in the San Fernando High Court, the Sunshine newspaper was also ordered to pay Rambarran’s legal costs. The matter arose from an article published on the Sunshine’s front page on December 16, 2016 with the headline: “Jwala files for divorce from wife of 20 years” and a page three headline, which read: “Wife removes all money from US$1M joint account.”
The action brought by Rambarran named the newspaper, its editor Anthony Alexis and senior reporter Azad Ali as the three defendants. Attorney Saira Lakhan represented Rambarran while Narendra Latchman represented the defendants.
Rambarran claimed the publication was scandalous, sensational and contained inaccurate information with the intention of generating sales for the Sunshine at the expense of embarrassing him and his family. The article contained private details about Jwala’s divorce petition, filed on October 27, 2016 which Rambarran said caused him embarrassment, distress and subjected him to public ridicule.
The judgement stated the court was mindful that a claim for damages for breach of confidentiality was distinct from defamation. Instead, it was a matter of the law protecting matters of personal dignity, autonomy and integrity. In his suit, Rambarran declared that he suffered from emotional injury namely distress and embarrassment from the bombardment of family, friends and strangers about the article.
Rambarran sought $500,000 in damages. In its assessment of damages, the court noted that there was no evidence of physical injury but of hurt feelings and a loss of dignity.
The court also noted there was a ‘near wholesale’ reporting of Rambarran’s petition by the publication which led to the inference that there was no sensitivity shown by Sunshine in its publishing. Alexander awarded Rambarran $150,000 for aggravated damages and legal costs of $18,836.23.