Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister has been slapped with a $1.1 million lawsuit for his role in the terminations of former Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Chairman Darnell Osborne and former BPL board members Nicola Thompson and Nick Dean.
In a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court yesterday, Osborne, Thompson and Dean all claimed that they were wrongfully removed, against the provisions of the Electricity Act, from their posts on August 14, 2018.
They’re suing for a specific total of $1,164,933.33 in special damages and unspecified exemplary damages.
The writ details the tumultuous time the three had since they were appointed to the board for five-year terms.
Osborne was appointed to the board and chairmanship effective July 1, 2017.
Thompson was also appointed to the board effective July 1, 2017.
Dean was appointed to the board effective June 26, 2018.
Osborne is seeking $588,800 in special damages for wrongful dismissal as director of the board of BPL and as a member of the board of BPL and Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC).
Included in that figure is $240,000, representing Osborne’s $60,000 per year director’s salary for the four years that remained in her appointment; $144,000, representing $36,000 per year in director’s fees of $3,000 per month for the four years remaining in her appointment; $48,000 per year in director’s fees of $1,000 per month; $80,000 in benefit fees of $5,000 per quarter for the remaining four years in her appointment; $19,200 in gas allowance of $4,800 per year for the remaining four years in her appointment; and $57,600 in medical insurance, representing $14,400 per year for the remaining four years in her appointment.
In addition, Osborne is seeking $98,133.33 in special damages representing loss of income since she was terminated last August.
The statement claims Osborne “has suffered damage, has not been able to obtain similar employment or appointment elsewhere and has lost the benefit of the directors fees as a member of the board of BPL and BEC”.
“Since the date of her dismissal, the plaintiff has been and remains unemployed,” the writ claimed.
Osborne is also seeking compensatory, exemplary and aggravated damages, claiming that Bannister slandered her in comments he made to The Nassau Guardian and The Tribune.
She also wants the court to declare that Bannister was engaged in misfeasance in office.
They are also seeking an injunction to gag Bannister from further commenting on anything to do with her in regard to these matters in the public domain.
Thompson is seeking $204,000 in special damages for alleged wrongful dismissal from her role as a member of the boards of BPL and BEC.
She states that $124,000 is due her for director’s fees of $31,000 per year for the four years that remained in her appointment.
She also claims that she is due $80,000 in benefit fees, $5,000 per quarter, for the four years remaining in her appointment.
She is also seeking unspecified damages for alleged “misfeasance in public office” by Bannister.
Dean is seeking $274,000 in special damages for alleged wrongful dismissal from his role as a member of the boards of BPL and BEC.
In his writ, Dean said he is owed $174,000 in director’s fees of $36,000 per year for the four years and 10 months that remained in his appointment.
He also claims that he is due $100,000 in benefit fees, $5,000 per quarter, for the four years and 10 months remaining in his appointment.
Dean is also seeking unspecified damages for alleged “misfeasance in public office” by Bannister.
Dean is also seeking compensatory, exemplary and aggravated damages from Bannister, claiming the minister slandered him and damaged his professional and international reputation in the local media.
The attorney general has also been named as a defendant insofar as he is the legal representative of the Cabinet and Bannister is being sued in his capacity as minister.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said last month that the government signed a contract with a company to commence a probe into the matters that led to the removal of the former board.
Osborne, Thompson and Dean were replaced by a new board amid a series of allegations.
At the time, Bannister said the relationships among the old board members had significantly deteriorated, and they were at odds on almost every critical issue at great cost to the company, which ultimately necessitated new leadership.
Osborne, Thompson and Dean refuted Bannister’s claims, calling them “untrue, inaccurate and misleading”.
The former board members also said “political interference” and “continuous disrespect” toward Osborne were at the root of the former board’s dysfunction.
Bannister later admitted there was political interference, but claimed it was after he learned BPL paid for a makeup bill and other bills for Osborne, claims she struck down.
Dr. Donovan Moxey chairs the new board.