Jearlean John appeals ruling in wrongful-dismissal lawsuit against HDC

Jearlean John, now a UNC senator, makes her way into the Red House on August 29. - Vidya Thurab
Jearlean John, now a UNC senator, makes her way into the Red House on August 29. - Vidya Thurab

UNC deputy political leader Jearlean John has appealed the decision of the High Court to throw out her wrongful-dismissal lawsuit against the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).

John’s notice of appeal was filed on Wednesday and it challenges any finding of fact and law made by Justice Kevin Ramcharan in his decision on August 3.

John’s attorneys Gerald Ramdeen, Umesh Maharaj and Dayadai Harripaul have filed seven grounds of appeal which complain that the judge’s finding was contrary to law and went against the evidence.

The notice of appeal also complains that the judge erred when he failed to bring to the parties’ attention that Keith Scotland, a member of the HDC board who participated in the board meeting to fire John, was his (the judge’s) attorney. The notice maintains that the parties should have been given the opportunity to make submissions on whether Ramcharan should have recused himself from hearing the matter.

Ramcharan is also being faulted for not providing reasons for dismissing John’s claim. His decision was a summary ruling in which he held that John’s conduct at a meeting led to her dismissal.

He also said he accepted the HDC's narrative of what happened at the meeting.

At the trial in October, John denied she was disrespectful at a meeting of the board on March 21, 2016 – the day before she was fired.

She said she felt “ambushed” at the meeting since she had tried to find out what was on the agenda. She also denied she was “vex” because she had been sent on administrative leave on December 17, 2015, to facilitate an audit into the HDC’s operations.

John was the HDC’s managing director for six years – from 2009 to March 21, 2016 – when she was fired by the Newman George-led board.

The notice of appeal also said the judge failed to properly assess the evidence and was wrong to find that John’s dismissal was justified. George, HDC’s chairman, testified at the trial insisting that John was disrespectful at the meeting when asked about the leasing of two high-end vehicles – a Mercedes Benz and a Range Rover – and the board, he said, decided to fire her.

The appeal contends the judge was wrong to accept George’s evidence over hers.

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