Ex-NRA boss alleges negligence, breach of contract

Reporting various instances of wrongdoing in the Cayman Islands government over a five-year period resulted in the former director of the National Roads Authority eventually being forced from his job and losing his good health, a lawsuit filed this month alleges.

Brian Tomlinson, who served as managing director at the NRA between 2007 and 2012, cites several examples of what he terms “mistreatment” at the hands of his former employer which caused “serious deterioration to his health.”

The lawsuit alleges various implied contractual breaches, including a “duty not to act without reasonable cause in a manner calculated or likely to damage or destroy the relationship of confidence and trust between [the National Roads Authority] as employer and Mr. Tomlinson as employee.”

Among the specific claims in the lawsuit are the following allegations:

That the National Roads Authority “threatened” to fire Mr. Tomlinson in 2008 when he objected to the appointment of local attorney Steve McField, who was an NRA board member at the time, to provide legal services to that same board. “Mr. McField was annoyed with the objection and sought to have Mr. Tomlinson dismissed.”

That the roads authority “tried to persuade” Mr. Tomlinson to approve a subdivision road construction project by a specific paving company in October 2010 “despite the paving company’s material failing to comply with [NRA] standards.” Mr. Tomlinson alleges that the deputy chairman of the NRA board at the time – Troy Whittaker – tried to persuade Mr. Tomlinson to approve this job.

That the NRA “circumvented” Mr. Tomlinson’s authority as director by having other subdivision roads built by the same company. It is alleged that Mr. Tomlinson’s deputy at the time ended up approving the contracts “without Mr. Tomlinson’s knowledge.”

That the NRA again sought to have Mr. Tomlinson’s contract “terminated” when he responded to an open records request “concerning the paving of roads and parking lots in Cayman Brac.” It is further claimed that “[the board] intended to dismiss Mr. Tomlinson until they received a letter from the Freedom of Information Office confirming that Mr. Tomlinson’s actions were lawful.”

That Mr. Tomlinson was dismissed following an incident that began in 2012. According to the writ: “Mr. Tomlinson reported to the Cayman Islands governor an irregularity between the then-Premier McKeeva Bush and the Collector of Customs [Carlon Powery] which involved the collector of customs approving an importation of illegal explosives on instruction from the premier despite Mr. Tomlinson refusing the importation.

In his role with [the NRA], Mr. Tomlinson was responsible for the approval of all imports of explosives into the islands and his actions had been perfectly correct. However … Mr. Tomlinson was informed by Richard Christiansen, a licensed blaster, that [Mr. Tomlinson] had ‘not pleased’ the premier and the premier would seek to have him removed from his post. Mr. Tomlinson’s employment was terminated on Nov. 30, 2012 with the [roads authority] giving inconsistent reasons of budget cuts on the one hand and sickness absence on the other.”

The lawsuit argues that Mr. Tomlinson’s notice of dismissal from his position, given in June 2012 “amounted to unfair dismissal” of a man the authority knew to be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. He has been unable to work since his dismissal, which officially took effect in November 2012.

The lawsuit seeks damages, including Mr. Tomlinson’s medical expenses and related ongoing costs, loss of income, general damages for pain and suffering, other special damages, damages for breach of contract and attorneys’ costs related to the case.