Ex-Gov dropped from Kernohan lawsuit

Judge: Government can be sued

Former Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack cannot be sued in a personal capacity for his actions in dismissing former Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, according to a ruling made Saturday by a visiting UK judge.

In addition, Justice Sir Alan Moses struck off former acting Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David George from the CI $2 million lawsuit, and stated he would not allow either former RCIPS Acting Commissioner James Smith or current Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor to be sued in their personal capacities or to be held vicariously liable for any damages caused to Mr. Kernohan.

Mr. Kernohan sued the Cayman Islands government, as well as Mr. George, Mr. Jack, Attorney General Sam Bulgin and retired UK Metropolitan Police officer Martin Bridger, in 2009 after he was cleared in connection with the now-infamous Operation Tempura police corruption probe. However, prior to that exoneration, Mr. Kernohan was fired from his post by former Governor Jack after the then-commissioner refused to return to the Islands at Mr. Jack’s orders.

Mr. Justice Moses also ruled from the bench Saturday that there were appropriate grounds for Mr. Kernohan to sue the attorney general, who represents the Cayman Islands government in all such actions. He also said that there may be appropriate grounds for Mr. Kernohan to sue Mr. Bridger, who was the senior investigating officer in the Operation Tempura probe from September 2007 to April 2009.

However, Mr. Justice Moses left Mr. Bridger’s fate uncertain, stating that he would likely require another hearing to determine whether allegations of misfeasance in public office made against the former Operation Tempura chief would be allowed to stand in a lawsuit.

The UK judge made it clear he did not wish matters to progress to such a stage.

“This is a case which cries out for mediation,” Mr. Justice Moses said. “[Continuing the lawsuit] is merely likely to culminate in the further exposure of the mistakes those involved in this case… have made.”

Attorneys for both sides gave no indication that a settlement process was in the works and even set dates for a pre-trial schedule which – if followed – would put the start of Mr. Kernohan’s lawsuit against the government sometime toward the beginning of 2012. 

In pleadings before the court, Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys sought CI $2 million in lost wages, breach of contract, and lost future earnings claims due to both his November 2008 firing and the actions which led up to it. Additional recovery may be sought for what are known as “exemplary damages”, however Mr. Justice Moses’ Saturday ruling made it likely that any such claims are likely to be significantly reduced in value.

Mr. Justice Moses also approved an amount for security of costs which Mr. Kernohan must provide – totalling US $49,200 – prior to proceeding with any further action against the government. This security, due by 13 June, acts as a surety bond to cover any future judgment enforcement costs should the former commissioner lose his case and have to pay government’s legal fees

Mr. Kernohan did not attend the proceedings in Cayman and was said to be living in California, USA where he is now attempting to get a helicopter pilot’s licence.

Please see the full story in Monday’s editions of the Caymanian Compass…