A herbalist from Arima who also maintains a blog on his public Facebook page has been ordered to pay over $1 million in compensation to a veteran attorney for defamation.
Master Martha Alexander last week ordered Francis Morean to compensate attorney Alfred Pierre, who has been in practice for some 38 years.
According to master’s decision, sometime around April 26, 2018, Morean used his Facebook page to “perform acts of defamation against the claimant.”
It included postings and live-streamed videos that “viciously attacked the character if the claimant as well as threatened his life.”
Pierre, in July 2018, filed a libel and slander lawsuit, as well as sought an injunction and an order that Morean publish a summary of the court’s decision on his Facebook page and in a daily newspaper.
Morean did not defend himself at the trial and Pierre received judgment in his favor. Alexander was tasked with assessing compensation,
According the evidence, Pierre and Morean met over a decade ago when Pierre won a case for a doctor who sued Morean for unpaid rent and eviction.
Morean then started hiring Pierre for legal services.
In 2017, Pierre was hired by the herbalist to assist with a land transaction. After it was completed, the two disagree over payment.
Pierre claimed Morean agreed that his legal fees would be taken out of the purchase price while the herbalist said he paid separately. Morean did not produce receipts to prove his claim.
Morean then took to his Facebook page where he started posting messages and videos, in which he attacked Pierre's personal and professional life, even leading to the attorney having to increase his personal security and start wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Morean also allegedly posted caricatures of Pierre together with his pre-action protocol letter in which the attorney threatened legal action.
In her ruling, Alexander said, "Based on the evidence before this court, the defamatory statements, as published on the defendant’s public Facebook profile, were numerous. Further, the Facebook publications evinced a clear understanding by the defendant of the likely impact of his defamation and a wanton disregard for same."
In assessing compensation, she ordered Morean to pay $900, 000 in general damages and $100,000 in exemplary damages to Pierre. He was also ordered to pay $66,724 in legal costs incurred by Pierre.
The attorney was represented by Senior Counsel Kemraj Harrikissoon, Cherry-Ann Pottinger and Kera Cuffie-Antrobus.