Plaintiff’s case under scrutiny

Sagicor attorney claims grounds for no case to answer submission

A key area of contention arose last week with respect to one of the plaintiffs countersuing Sagicor General Insurance (Cayman) Limited in relation to the post-Hurricane Ivan reconstruction project at the Windsor Village condominium project

The question raised was whether plaintiff Alastair Paterson’s case pleadings included specific terminology that would make him eligible for damages for loss of opportunity, loss of reputation and loss of business.

The implications mean that beyond costs, which have already been awarded to the plaintiffs, Mr. Paterson could end up receiving considerably less damages.

John and Robert Hurlstone are also countersuing Sagicor General.

Their case pleadings include references to loss of opportunity and unnecessary suffering, as well as loss of business to their companies.

Sagicor General Defence Attorney Michael Roberts said he was minded to offer a no case to answer submission with regard to Mr. Patterson’s case.

Mr. Paterson’s Attorney Antonio Bueno, who took conduct of the matter after the pleadings had been drafted, argued the pleadings could be amended.

‘If need be I will apply to change my pleadings merely as cosmetics that align them properly with what the evidence has shown,’ he said.

Justice Henderson agreed that if Sagicor’s lead attorney did not object to witnesses giving testimony that established Mr. Paterson’s case in terms of areas his case pleadings did not state specifically, the evidence could be used to make inferences of where violations occurred that were consistent with a more elaborate case pleading.

He said it was unusual for the pleadings in a case to change after the closing arguments had been made, but acknowledged that the order of closing arguments had been rearranged and Mr. Bueno could speak to the issues of concern in his rebuttal.

A leave was granted for Mr. Bueno to put together his arguments, which include Mr. Paterson having a case beyond his pleadings and an application for a change of pleadings, based on the evidence, if the former did not occur.

Attorneys for Sagicor General will have an opportunity to reply to Mr. Bueno’s submissions in writing.

Alastair Paterson, Bould Paterson Ltd., Crawford Adjusters, Hurlstone General Contractors Ltd., Hurlstone Ltd., John Hurlstone and Robert Hurlstone are seeking damages after a case of fraud and conspiracy was brought against them by Cayman General Insurance – now Sagicor General – which could not be sustained and was abandoned on the verge of trial.

The countersuit was successful and $943,000 has already been awarded to the plaintiffs.

Sagicor only bought shares in Cayman General Insurance after the events alleged in the original lawsuit took place. It eventually bought all of Cayman National Corporation’s 75 per cent interest in the insurer.

The Cayman Islands Government also owns a little more than 24 per cent of Sagicor General. This is as a result of a negotiated settlement it made with Cayman General Insurance with regard to its Hurricane Ivan claim on damages to government properties.

Attorneys say costs could end up well in the millions.

In last December’s trial, Justice Alexander Henderson made an order of discovery to determine whether Cayman National Corporation had given an indemnity to Sagicor General Insurance with regard to liabilities arising from the lawsuit.

According to a recent statement made by Cayman National Corporation Chief Executive Officer Stuart Dack, a warranty clause included in the contract with Sagicor is capped at $8 million and includes all outstanding claims relating to Hurricane Ivan, not just the Windsor Village matter.

Mr. Dack said no warranty agreement of any kind exists with the government with relation to its 24 per cent stake in the company.