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Defence Force Captain Appeals $25,000 Court Award

Defence Force Officer, captain Javonson Willock

Defence Force Captain Javonson Willock has announced plans to appeal a recent court decision by High Court Judge Jans Drysdale. The judge awarded him only $25,000 in damages, significantly less than the $380,000 Willock initially sought. Willock’s claim stemmed from the Defence Force’s attempt to force his resignation based on unfounded misconduct allegations.

Background of the Case

The legal battle began in December 2020 when Willock sued the Defence Force, accusing them of violating his rights to natural justice. He claimed the Defence Force’s Board tried to force him to resign after 17 years of service, following allegations of misconduct with junior ranks. Willock argued that these actions led to potential loss of wages and benefits, and he accused the Chief of Defence Staff of denying him a fair hearing and due process.

Breakdown of Willock’s Claim

Willock’s initial claim of $380,134.38 was divided into:

  • General Damages: $228,134.00
  • Exemplary Damages: $50,000.00
  • Aggravated Damages: $42,000.00
  • Vindicatory Damages: $60,000.00

However, Judge Drysdale awarded only $25,000, stating that the evidence presented justified this amount to cover pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of reputation from the accusations.

Willock’s Concerns and Appeal

In an interview with IPB, Willock expressed his concerns with the ruling, stating, “While I respect the court’s decision, I have a number of concerns with the ruling. I believe I have good grounds for appealing and will be discussing the possibilities with my attorney.”

Willock had made numerous claims against the Defence Force, including their refusal to promote him, attempts to change his employment status and strip his rank, and denial of a proper defense against the misconduct charges. He requested compensation for being denied due process, public ridicule, humiliation, and other grievances.

Judge’s Rationale

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Judge Drysdale explained that many of Willock’s claims were not proven to be direct results of the Defence Force’s actions. She noted that while the Defence Force did refuse Willock legal representation and access to evidence initially, they eventually agreed to remove all reprimand letters from his file. This led to the conclusion that $25,000 was an appropriate compensation.

Drysdale also stated that Willock failed to demonstrate that the Defence Force acted maliciously or in bad faith, which disqualified him from receiving aggravated or exemplary damages. She pointed out inconsistencies in his testimony and his mistaken belief that the acknowledgment of liability entitled him to compensation for all grievances, not just the defective procedure.

Other Similar Cases

Two other Defence Force officers, Austin Buntin and Marlan Mathurin, have also taken the organization to court for similar reasons. They seek to prevent the force from changing their ranks, which could affect their pensions.

Next Steps

Willock plans to discuss his appeal options with his attorney, aiming for a more favorable outcome that reflects the severity of his grievances.

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