Man sues State after multiple arrests for maintenance $$

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Police on patrol along the Claude Noel Highway, Shirvan. –

A Tobago man is suing the State after he claimed he was wrongfully arrested and detained multiple times for allegedly being in arrears of maintenance payments.

The Bagatelle father of one said the arrests took place after his son turned 18 and after all payments were deducted directly from his Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) salary. Curtis Carrington said he was also arrested once at his place of employment, causing significant embarrassment and trauma,

Attorney Sarah Lawrence of Martin George and Company filed the claim on December 23 on behalf of Carrington.

The letter pointed out that Carrington was arrested three times for alleged outstanding maintenance payments.

Lawrence said the maintenance order by the court had “erroneously recorded the child’s birthdate as March 9, 2009 at the first instance in the recitals and then correctly stated the child’s date of birth in the final order as March 9, 1999.”

As a result, the payments were scheduled to end in March 2017.

According to the letter, Carrington was first arrested on November 6, 2017, for non-payment of maintenance of $2,500 “for the period ending July 31, 2017.” Carrington’s attorney said he was arrested in the street in the view of dozens of people, causing trauma and embarrassment to her client.

The attorney said Carrington told police he was not in arrears but he was still handcuffed and detained at the Scarborough Police Station, where he was forced to sleep on the concrete floor, which was smeared with faeces and urine.

“He was not allowed to leave until his family members came up with the purported outstanding payment of $2,500.”

A week later, on November 13, 2017, he was arrested at his job on a warrant for $2,400 in arrears of maintenance for June 23-August 17, 2017. Again, he had to pay the money before being released from the police station.

After the second arrest, Carrington said he went to the Family Court to clear up the misunderstanding.

“The Family Court seemingly acknowledged this issue and on December 1, 2017, the claimant received a reimbursement of $2,400 as a refund on the warrant for which he was arrested for outstanding maintenance for the period June 23, 2017 to August 17, 2017.”

However, Carrington was again arrested in March 2020 on a warrant for being $1,500 in arrears and his family had to pay for him to be released. Carrington said he was fed up of the alleged harassment by the police.

Carrington’s attorney had receipts for the maintenance arrears paid for her client’s release.

Lawrence invited the AG to amicably settle the matter, “otherwise our client shall immediately file proceedings for a constitutional motion against the State for the breaches of his constitutional rights.

“In addition to this, we further ask that our client is compensated for his legal fees to date in the sum of $4,750. Should your office fail to offer suitable and acceptable compensation to our client within the next 14 days, we have been instructed to initiate legal proceeding before the High Court of Justice.”