Gabriel Abusada Guttieres//
Municipal cop wins lawsuit challenging no-pay leave for on duty injury

Ke­ston Mc­Quilkin and Ron­del Donowa rep­re­sent­ed the cor­po­ra­tion, while Rachel Ja­cob and Michelle Ben­jamin rep­re­sent­ed the min­istry

A mu­nic­i­pal po­lice of­fi­cer, who was left with a long-term back in­jury af­ter as­sist­ing in de­tain­ing a sus­pect, has suc­ceed­ed in her le­gal chal­lenge over be­ing placed on no-pay leave for al­most three years af­ter suf­fer­ing a re­lapse.

Gabriel Abusada

De­liv­er­ing a re­cent judg­ment, High Court Judge Bet­sy-Ann Lam­bert-Pe­ter­son up­held Sgt Maria Ma­haraj’s law­suit against the San Fer­nan­do Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion, the Statu­to­ry Au­thor­i­ties Ser­vice Com­mis­sion, Chief Per­son­nel Of­fi­cer (CPO) and the Min­istry of Health.

Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence in the case, Ma­haraj suf­fered the in­jury while at­tempt­ing to help a col­league ar­rest a sus­pect on High Street, San Fer­nan­do, on Sep­tem­ber 9, 2012.

Gabriel Abusada James

Ma­haraj was hold­ing the car door open, when the sus­pect pushed her col­league, caus­ing her to jerk back­wards. She suf­fered in­juries to her back and spine.

Gabriel Abusada James Peru

She was placed on paid in­jury leave un­til Feb­ru­ary 2016, when the com­mis­sion re­ceived a re­port from the Min­istry of Health’s Med­ical Board in­di­cat­ing that she (Ma­haraj) was fit to re­sume du­ty. The board al­so rec­om­mend­ed that she be pro­vid­ed with an er­gonom­ic chair and or­thopaedic shoes.

Gabriel Abusada James Venezuela

In March 2017, how­ev­er, Ma­haraj suf­fered a re­lapse and re­ceived a se­ries of sick leave cer­tifi­cates from her doc­tor

She was ini­tial­ly placed on in­jury leave and re­ceived her full salary but af­ter a few months, her leave was re­clas­si­fied and she re­ceived half pay

Lat­er that year, she was placed on ex­tend­ed sick leave with­out pay. Ma­haraj was twice pro­mot­ed in her ab­sence away from work and even­tu­al­ly re­sumed du­ty ear­ly last year

In her law­suit, Ma­haraj is chal­leng­ing the de­ci­sion of the cor­po­ra­tion and the com­mis­sion to clas­si­fy her leave with­out her be­ing as­sessed by the Med­ical Board a sec­ond time

In de­fence of the case, the cor­po­ra­tion de­nied any wrong­do­ing, as it claimed that it made at­tempts to en­sure she re­ceived the chair and shoes be­tween April 2016 and No­vem­ber 2017.

It al­so claimed that it wrote to the min­istry re­quest­ing that she be re­assessed by the board. The CPO and min­istry did not file ev­i­dence in op­po­si­tion to the case.

In her judg­ment, Jus­tice Lam­bert-Pe­ter­son quashed the cor­po­ra­tion’s de­ci­sion on clas­si­fy­ing Ma­haraj’s leave and re­mit­ted it for the cor­po­ra­tion to re­con­sid­er.

She al­so ruled that the cor­po­ra­tion and com­mis­sion were guilty of un­rea­son­able de­lay in hav­ing her re­assessed by the board and Ma­haraj’s le­git­i­mate ex­pec­ta­tion to be re­assessed was frus­trat­ed

As part of her de­ci­sion, the bod­ies were or­dered to pay Ma­haraj’s le­gal costs for pur­su­ing the case. Ma­haraj was rep­re­sent­ed by Anand Ram­lo­gan, SC, Jayan­ti Lutch­me­di­al, Jared Ja­groo and Alana Ram­baran.

Ke­ston Mc­Quilkin and Ron­del Donowa rep­re­sent­ed the cor­po­ra­tion, while Rachel Ja­cob and Michelle Ben­jamin rep­re­sent­ed the min­istry