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Wednesday 15 August 2018
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Judge rules against Prison Commissioner

A HIGH COURT judge has ruled against the Commissioner of Prisons for the unreasonable delay in reclassifying a prison guard’s sick leave to injury leave which hindered his National Insurance Employment Injury Benefit payment.

Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell declared that the commissioner, and the State, breached their statutory duty.

She also ordered both parties to pay Raphael Mohammed’s costs.

Mohammed was represented by attorneys Anand Ramlogan,SC, Chelsea Stewart and Alana Rambaran while Keisha Prosper and Lesley Almarales represented the State.

Mohammed was injured while on duty at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca on September 26, 2016.

He was forced to go on leave but informed the commissioner he wanted to apply for National Insurance Employment Injury benefits but it was necessary for his sick leave to be reclassified to injury leave.

Despite Mohammed’s lawyers writing to the commissioner and filing a Freedom of Information application, almost a year passed and nothing was done.

Mohammed filed a judicial review application and the court granted injunctive relief, ordering the commissioner to reclassify the leave and sign the injury benefit application form.

In his lawsuit, Mohammed said the reclassification was necessary for approval by the National Insurance Board.

He said he submitted all the necessary documents required, including witness statements of a fellow guard and an inmate who witnessed the accident.

An allegation had also been made that Mohammed was faking his illness and

In their defence, the commissioner and the State argued that the judicial review claim was unnecessary since nothing prevented him from taking his application form to the NIB.

Mohammed had done so but without the commissioner’s signature.

The State further argued there was no need for the reclassification of his leave for him to obtain the benefits he wished to apply for and that the NIB’s acceptance of his application, without the reclassification, was evidence that the delay in no way hindered Mohammed.

Donaldson-Honeywell, however, pointed out in her ruling that Mohammed’s application had not yet been approved by the NIB and is still under investigation.

“The defendants have however put forward no concrete argument or evidence that the claimant’s application for injury leave could have succeeded without the requisite information from his employers.

She said the failure of the employer to confirm the injury took place in the workplace would “certain to have a detrimental effect” on Mohammed’s application for injury leave benefits.

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