ON Thursday morning a High Court judge ordered Republic Bank Ltd (RBL) to cut a cheque for $223,800.19 from the account of the TT Gymnastics Federation by 4 pm today to former national gymnast Thema Williams.
Justice Frank Seepersad approved the garnishee order filed by Williams who, four years later, is still owed the judgment debt ordered back in 2018.
On November 26, 2018, Seepersad ruled Williams was entitled to $200,000 for loss of endorsements and other opportunities because of the federation's “biased” and flawed decision to withdraw her from representing this country in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was replaced with Canadian-born alternate Marisa Dick.
The court-ordered compensation was a fraction of what Williams asked for – $11 million – but Seepersad ordered $150,000 in exemplary damages and $50,000 for loss of opportunity to earn promotional income.
Four years on, the money is yet to be paid, and the sum owed to Williams has ballooned to $238,490.90 by virtue of the five per cent interest from the date of judgment.
The judge castigated the federation’s conduct. He said even after the court’s decision in 2018 – which had not been appealed – it appeared the federation “effectively” ignored the court’s order and had been operating with a “business as usual mindset.”
“While the judgment creditor was left unpaid, training and events were engaged and international trips to Turkey were planned as the exhibits revealed…
“The apparent calculated refusal to compensate the judgment creditor is reprehensible and has added further insult to the injury and incalculable hurt which was previously inflicted upon her.
“It appears that the ill-advised and unwarranted machinations, dismissive attitude and disregard towards the claimant/judgment creditor continue.”
On October 3, Williams’s attorneys Darrell Allahar and Reza Ramjohn began the garnishee proceedings against the TTGF and sought a provisional order – which the judge granted – for a temporary freeze on at least one of the federation’s accounts at RBL to cover the judgment debt, interest and costs.
The bank was represented by attorney Tonya Rowley. The federation was represented by attorney Farai Hove Maisasai.