Home / Rio 2016 / Thema sues for $11.3 million! TTGF officials served pre-action protocol letters

Thema sues for $11.3 million! TTGF officials served pre-action protocol letters

What dollar value would you place on the trauma of being robbed the chance to compete at the Olympic Games?

Photo: Thema Williams of Trinidad And Tobago competes on the uneven bars during the 2015 World Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 October 2015. (Copyright AFP 2016/Andy Buchanan)
Photo: Thema Williams of Trinidad And Tobago competes on the uneven bars during the 2015 World Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 October 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Andy Buchanan)

For 20 year old gymnast Thema Williams, it is worth TT$10 million. And Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez, first vice president Akil Wattley, second vice president Ricardo Lue and his wife and assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue, have 10 days to pay that figure plus the cost of a scholarship to Michigan State University—which she turned down to chase her Olympic dream—or face action in the local High Court.

The total sum requested of Marquez, Wattley and the Lue Shues, which was sent to the officials this week via pre-action protocol letters, is TT$11,385,384.00 (US$1.7 million), exclusive of legal costs.

Williams’ legal action is spearheaded by attorney Keith Scotland with Martin Daly SC as leading counsel.

“Having conferred with the learned senior counsel and after our research in the matter,” Scotland told Wired868. “It is our respectful view that the action perpetrated against our client justifies a certain amount of punitive damages…

“I think we can agree that competing at the Olympic Games is a chance of a lifetime. And the cynical way it was taken away from Thema Williams warrants this sort of financial request.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right). (Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right).
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

The TTGF is represented by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC, although it is not clear whether the high profile attorney will individually represent the quartet of gymnastics officials. Wired868 was unable to reach the four officials.

Pointedly, Scotland said Williams’ legal team did not accept that the TTGF’s council members were lawfully able to hold their respective posts, due to alleged breaches of the gymnastics body’s constitution.

“We have certain information, which suggests that the provisions of Article 6 of the TTGF’s Constitution—regarding holding office for two years and for one term only, as well as the obligations included in that constitution with respect to the holding of annual general meetings—may have been violated,” stated Scotland’s legal document. “I also reserve my Client’s position regarding the TTGF’s compliance with the Registration of Clubs Act Chapter 21:01.”

The dispute between the respective parties centres around the TTGF’s controversial withdrawal of Williams from the Rio 2016 Olympic Test event, on the eve of the April 17 competition. She was replaced by her alternate, Marisa Dick.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Marisa Dick (right) wave to the crowd during the Opening Ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games at Rogers Stadium, Toronto on July 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Marisa Dick (right) wave to the crowd during the Opening Ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games at Rogers Stadium, Toronto on July 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The TTGF said its decision to replace its qualified gymnast was taken on the back of an email from Williams’ coach, John Geddert, which said, among other things, that she was “nursing an injured ankle.”

“We are sincerely concerned for her health and cannot risk further injury,” stated a TTGF release on Saturday April 16.

However, Geddert subsequently claimed that the gymnastics federation took his words out of context—and with malicious intent—while a medical check-up allegedly cleared Williams within hours.

The TTGF’s action was also allegedly in breach of its contract with Williams, which suggested that she could only be excused from the Test event after consultation between the head coach, head of delegation, relevant medical personnel and the athlete herself.

The pre-action protocol letter described Williams’ withdrawal as “hasty, unfair and unconscionable” and claimed that the officials: “acted unlawfully and/or without lawful authority and/or in breach of fundamental justice and/or have treated my client unfairly and/or in breach of the contracts and/or membership rights.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (centre) talks to Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) first vice-president Akil Wattley (right) at a local gymnastics meet at the Tacarigua Indoor Sporting Facility on 23 April 2016. Looking on (bottom left) is Dick's mother, Hannifer Dick. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (centre) talks to Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) first vice-president Akil Wattley (right) at a local gymnastics meet at the Tacarigua Indoor Sporting Facility on 23 April 2016.
Looking on (bottom left) is Dick’s mother, Hannifer Dick.
(Courtesy Wired868)

The legal document primarily used emails and What’s App messages to build a case of bias, conflict of interest, and surreptitious and unreasonable behaviour by the four TTGF officials. And an email from Wattley, which referred to Williams as “unsportswomanlike”, was said to have demonstrated ill feeling and bias against the former St Joseph’s Convent (Port of Spain) student and Tots and Tumblers gymnast.

If successful, Williams’ case can be a landmark action in holding sport administrators personally accountable for their actions.

(The Thema Move)

Excerpt:

As a result of the wrongdoing of all of you set out above my Client has:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international gymnast Thema Williams. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international gymnast Thema Williams.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

(a) Suffered psychological damage and significant associated stress, the full effects of which may yet unfold further;

(b) Suffered the huge loss of opportunity to be an Olympian, and an Olympian of historic stature as the first Olympic gymnast from Trinidad and Tobago and the lifelong opportunity for endorsements, motivational speaking engagements and related business opportunities.

(c) Suffered damage to her reputation, humiliation and embarrassment, both nationally and internationally, particularly having regard to the predominance of social media.

As compensation for the above my Client is entitled to very substantial general damages.

My client has also suffered special damage, some of which is still being quantified. As a result of the breaches of contract and other matters complained of above she has already suffered the loss of the opportunity of a scholarship as particularised below:

My Client did not proceed with an offer for the award of a four-year gymnastics scholarship at the prestigious Michigan State University to fill an open spot immediately for the fall semester 2014.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs a handstand at John Geddert's Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan. (Courtesy Thema Williams)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs a handstand at John Geddert’s Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan.
(Courtesy Thema Williams)

This scholarship was worth approximately $216,460 USD ($1,385,384 TTD) and my Client claims this sum as special damages.

Outline:

Tuition and Fees: $37,912.00 USD

Room and Board: $10,412.00 USD

Books and Supplies: $1,068.00 USD

Personal Expenses: $2,648.00 USD

Medical: $2,075,00 USD

Total Per Year: $54,115.00 USD

Total over 4 years: $216,460.00 USD (1,385,384.00 TTD)

I also advise that having regard to all the above, my Client will be entitled to declaratory reliefs from the High Court confirming that actions of the TTGF were mala fide and/or unfair and/or unreasonable and/ or arbitrary.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Resa Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Resa Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Wired868)

In light of the foregoing, I call upon you the TTGF and/or you Ricardo Lue Shue and/or you Donna Lue Shue and/or you David Marquez and/or you Akil Wattley within ten (10) days of the date to pay to my Client the total sum of TT$11,385,384.00 comprising the said TT$1,385,384 the special damages claimed together with the sum of $10,000,000.00 general damages and/or aggravated and/or exemplary damages, exclusive of legal costs.

For the avoidance of all doubt, the basis of my Client’s claim in aggravated and/or exemplary damages is that your wrongdoing was conscious and/or outrageous and/or cruel, completely unmindful as to the consequences for a young person aged 20, bidding to be an Olympian in historic circumstances, an opportunity that is age related and sensitive to the four-year Olympic cycle.

Your conduct may alternatively also be categorised as harsh and oppressive and has caused damage to my Client, which cannot be satisfied by an award of compensatory damage alone.

I have advised my Client that she is entitled to an award of exemplary damages because justice to her is not likely to be seen to be done without it.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation second vice president and former president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) shakes hands with SPORTT Company official Anthony Creed. Lue Shue will act as Marisa Dick's coach in Brazil. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation second vice president and former president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) shakes hands with SPORTT Company official Anthony Creed.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

I am further of the view that insofar as the actions of you, Ricardo and/or you Donna Lue Shue and/or you David Marquez and/or you Akil Wattley, as agents of the TTGF and/or on your own behalf were calculated to provide to Ms Dick and by extension yourselves an opportunity for profit.

This too entitles my Client to claim exemplary damages from you.

If no satisfactory response is received to this letter within 10 days of its date as requested above, my Client shall initiate proceedings in the High Court of Justice without further notice to you.

Please be guided accordingly.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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209 comments

  1. Just imagine Sunday morning, between 3:00am and 4:00am, ah hearing ‘GEDDERT BOO BOO’, ‘GEDDERT BOO BOO’ that obnoxious promo or what ever. Needless to say, ah jump up confused, wondering what time or what day it is. Please Andre ah know yuh desperate, but 4:00 am Sunday morning? Just ‘man up’, say who you supporting (even if we done know) and stop the irritating promo. ‘ANDRE BOO’ ANDRE BOO BOO! Yuh see how contagious stupidness could be?

  2. Nelson Luther Ghandi

    THEMA SUES:
    Wayne Mungalsingh and Alandra Mohammed, I doubt very much, given the wide publicity which this matter has received, it would have escaped your attention that Ms. Marisa Dick also posted so-called ‘raunchy photos.’ on the internet. In this regard, therefore, you are obviously applying a DOUBLE STANDARD. That notwithstanding, the COMPENSATION sought relates to the legal issue concerning the alleged UNFAIR TREATMENT of Thema, by the Board of the TTGF and certain Members of the Board in their individual capacities, with respect to her withdrawal from the Rio Test Event and, as a consequence, extinguishing any possibility of her participation in the Rio Olympics.

    I do not know whether your view is premised on YOUR UNDERSTANDING of ‘class’, religion, or based on some other criteria that may be viewed as inconsistent with the application of rules of engagement which are not whimsical, but are fair/reasonable and just. We, the citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, must strive to live harmoniously in a modern, civilized society where there is respect for the human rights of individuals, the rule of law, equality/equity prevails, prejudice/bias is abhorred, and REWARDS are based on MERIT, especially when taxpayer resources are involved.

    NELSON LUTHER GHANDI

  3. I think Ramesh is working pro bono too. At least he was for the TTGF. Or so I suspect.

  4. He has been trying to change his image but this is a reversion to form.

  5. Lol lol is so funny you folks think Ramesh is a just man …hilarious shit lol

  6. Ramesh going wherever the money going. Right and just not in his vocabulary. More like opportunist.

  7. Ramesh should stick to causes where there is some right or belief on the side that he wants to represent. He does not need this and it may only tarnish his recent reputation of standing for what is seemingly just and right.

  8. I dont thin u worth 11 cents…but perhaps if you strip again go murray st..woodbrook..u might just get a bit more…

  9. I wish u win they so racial it’s because your black i really wish u win

  10. Sue they ass off 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰

  11. Dave.o she not.getting ah cent.

  12. Class is class no decent woman will take off her top and let it go viral she rank 000zero in my ratings okk so cool it dat mean dat yuh all daughter have d same stripping attitude to plz

  13. I’m in total agreement with Thema

  14. D bad thing is that the money doesn’t hv to come out off their pockets, it’s from us tax payers through d government.

  15. Stand up for your right girl

  16. She should of sued them for double that amount.

  17. good job hope she invests it in what she loves

  18. Only 11…million, ? you go girl , let de wana be Trini marisa dick and her mother pay half wicked!

  19. Sue the hell out of them Thema.

  20. ?Get up stand up, stand up for your
    right.? ?
    I just hope I get pay check early.

  21. Read the article, Thema ranked 59th Marissa 77th. Did not know that all you needed to qualify was a river of tears from ur moms via email. Thema shdve started that lawsuit at $20MM.

  22. I have said before n was criticized for saying it. However, it needs to be said again.
    This country n it’s government has more important things to worry about. Like high crime,high cost of living, high unemployment rate,etc.

  23. please seta precedent , so all those racist antional govern bodies will think tice before mashing up the career on an athlete who would have work day and night to perfect, the skill to reach that level

  24. Lue Shue’s on the other foot

  25. do what you have to do when yuh swimming in a room full of sharks. POWER TO YOU MY FRIEND GO BRAVE.

  26. Dave Lux you’ve hit the nail on the head! You’re the only one who seems to understand that this is all BULLSHIT of the highest(and most expensive) order! If only we could all flash our titties ,accomplish very little in our field of endeavor and sue the nation for millions,what a wonderful world this would be.Martin Daly in particular SHAME ON YOU !!!;

  27. Ms. Williams at least you know what you are worth. Trinbagoians or to show more appreciation for home grown talent. Real Trini vs Faux Trini who do we choose? Faux. Trini by association because we don’t like ourselves. So Ms.Williams I agree with you let them pay for stealing your experience. I hope Faux Trini is worth every penny they have to pay you. Stay strong