Former Port of Port-of-Spain chief executive Colin Lucas has been ordered to pay the $500,000 in legal fees his former employer incurred in defending his lawsuit over its failure to renew his contract in 2013.
Lucas was ordered to pay the legal costs as High Court Judge Margaret Mohammed dismissed his lawsuit in a judgment delivered on Monday.
In the lawsuit, Lucas was alleging that he was summarily dismissed in March 2013 as the Port Authority did not renew his contract after offering him the facility.
According to the evidence presented in the case, Lucas claimed that several months before his contract was due to expire he approached then Port Authority Chairman Joseph Toney to offer himself for another three-year term.
Toney agreed but indicated that details of his contract inclusive of his remuneration package would have to be finalised.
Toney initially offered to roll over Lucas’ remaining 13 days of vacation leave but the authority eventually paid him for the period and did not renew his contract.
Through the lawsuit, Lucas was seeking almost $1.4 million in compensation, which was calculated based on the salary he would have received if the contract had been renewed.
In her judgment, Justice Mohammed rejected Lucas’ contention that his discussions with Toney amounted to a valid contract.
Mohammed suggested that Lucas would have been aware that his contract, as a senior executive, could not have been ratified by Toney alone and would have required board approval. She also stated that he would have been aware that the board members’ tenure was due to expire and that they would be hesitant to bind their successors to such a deal.
Mohammed also said that based on the evidence, it appeared that Toney recognised his error and attempted to correct it by reversing his decision on Lucas’ remaining vacation leave.
“At best, Mr Toney and the Claimant were still in discussions on the terms and conditions for the said position as they both knew that the position of CEO of PPOS was different from the position which the Claimant held under the 2011 contract,” she said.
Lucas was represented by Douglas Mendes, SC, Michael Quamina, and Gabrielle Gellineau, while Russell Martineau, SC, Amirah Rahaman, and Joel Roper represented the authority.