Man seeks $25,000 after car burns at licensing compound

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Several cars parked in the impound space of the head office at the MOWT Licensing Authority Office in Caroni had to be extinguish after an unknown fire earlier on the morning of Sunday November 26 2023. – Photo by Roger Jacob

The owner of a Honda Civic which was one of 14 vehicles destroyed in a fire at the Licencing Division’s head office at Caroni, last month, is threatening to take legal action against the State.

Rory Rampersad wants $25,000 to replace the car and $250 a day, from November 27, until the date of judgment for loss of use.

The Attorney General was given 28 days to respond.

Rampersad, of Freeport, is represented by attorney Abdel Mohammed.

In a pre-action protocol letter, Mohammed said his client bought the car in March 2022.

On July 3, 2023, when he took it for inspection there was an issue with the chassis number and the records kept by the Transport Division. On July 13, Rampersad went to the Licensing Division in Caroni to rectify the problems with the chassis number and to legally transfer the car to his name.

After a licensing officer inspected the car, an investigation was ordered to determine if the chassis number was tampered with and Rampersad’s car was impounded pending the forensic investigation.

Mohammed said his client waited for the completion of the investigation and made attempts to get information. However, on November 27, Mohammed said Rampersad found out through the media there was a fire at the compound of the licensing office which destroyed 14 impounded vehicles.

“Our client thereafter contacted the licensing office and was informed that his motor vehicle was involved in the fire and was destroyed.”

Rampersad went to the office and took photographs of the damage done to the car. Mohammed said he also received a letter from the Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke on November 30, formally notifying him that his car had been destroyed by fire. The commissioner also said the matter was being investigated by the police and Rampersad would be told of the outcome.

Mohammed said the car was valued at $25,000 and a formal report was made to the police on December 12.

“Our client instructs that to this date, he has been left in the dark and has suffered severe loss and damages as a result of the negligence of the proposed defendant, its servants and/or agents.

“Our client has therefore been deprived of his property which has been permanently destroyed as a result of the fire which took place on or around November 26, 2023. As a result of the negligence of the proposed defendant, the proposed claimant has sustained loss and damages to his said vehicle.”

Mohammed contended that the State failed to reasonably secure his client’s vehicle on its premises, failed to ensure it was protected from property damage or fire while in its possession and control and placed it in an area which exposed it to danger.

He also said the State failed to do a risk assessment on impounded vehicles, failed to ensure there was proper security on the compound and failed to construct a car park reasonably safe from the risk of fire or damage to the vehicle.