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Property of late Fernando Johnson

High Court Judge Agnes Actie – delivered the ruling in the court matter

Female high court judge, Justice Agnes Actie has handed down a ruling in a case in which a woman who claimed to be the common law wife of deceased former broadcaster Fernando Johnson was trying to lay claim to his property including a house and five acres of land at Mardi Gras.

The woman was identified in the lawsuit as Joan Buckmire and she was challenged by Julie Ann Dowden, identified in court papers as one of the daughters of Fernando Johnson.

The former employee of Radio Grenada in the 1970’s died in 2019.

Buckmire alleged that she was looking after the deceased and before he died that they had entered into a personal relationship.

In addition, she said that Johnson had brought her into his small business and that she was entitled to some of the proceeds from the enterprise.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces the Justice Actie judgement in which the two attorneys involved in the case were Deborah St Bernard and Benjamin Hood.

RULING
[1] ACTIE, J: The claimant claims that she was in an intimate relationship with Fernando Johnson (hereafter “the deceased”). The defendant is the daughter and the Administratrix of the estate of the deceased.

[2] In a statement of claim filed on 3rd March 2020 the claimant claims for:

(1) A declaration that the defendant and/or agents of the defendant are estopped from restricting the claimant from the use and enjoyment of the dwelling house and adjoining property situate at Mardigras in the parish of Saint David in the State of Grenada.

(2) An injunction restraining the defendant, the defendant’s agents or successors in title from restricting, preventing or otherwise interfering with the claimant’s peaceful enjoyment of the dwelling house and property aforesaid.

(3) A declaration that the claimant is entitled to absolute title to the dwelling house presently occupied by the claimant and five (5) acres of adjoining property

(4) Damages for malicious and intentional trespass to the goods of the claimant located at the dwelling house.

(5) Damages for interference with the business of the claimant; Special damages in the amount of $30,711.17.

(6) Interest; and Costs.

[3] The claimant avers that she met the deceased in or about the month of September 2004, and that they commenced an intimate relationship in or about the month of April 2009, when she would live in the house of the deceased for several weeks at a time.

[4] During that time, the claimant avers that the deceased began to involve her in business activities of the business named “Adfer Fire Protection” (hereafter “the business”). The claimant states that this business was jointly owned and operated by her and the deceased, and when the business was short of cash, she would contribute from her personal resources on the assurance of the deceased that the business belonged to both of them, and he would make provision for her wellbeing.

[5] In December 2013, the claimant states that she moved into the dwelling house of the deceased and the couple lived together on a full-time basis as common law husband and wife. The claimant states that the deceased promised that he would ensure that the claimant would have the dwelling house and 5 acres of land surrounding the said dwelling house.

[6] The deceased took ill on 9th August 2019 and died on August 21st, 2019. The claimant continued to reside in the dwelling house after the death of the deceased.

[7] On 13th October 2019, the claimant left the dwelling house to visit her children. When she returned, the locks of the dwelling house were broken, and upon entering she noticed several items in the dwelling house missing and/or destroyed by the defendant. Furthermore, on or about 23rd January 2020, the electricity service at the dwelling house was disconnected by the defendant, for which the claimant claims loss and damages.

[8] The claimant contends that the breaking into the dwelling house by the defendant, and the damaging and removal of items was conceived and executed with malicious intent, since the defendant knew or ought to have known that her actions would cause damage to the business and harm and embarrassment to the claimant. The claimant states that the business sustained damage over a period of approximately 3 weeks.

[9] It is the claimant’s position that the defendant is estopped from going against the promise made by the deceased to the claimant and denying the claimant title to the dwelling house that she occupied and the five (5) acres of land surrounding the dwelling house.

Defendant’s case
[10] The defendant in her filed defence avers that the deceased specifically denied being in an intimate relationship with the claimant when asked by his adult children.

[11] The defendant contends that the deceased indicated that he hired the claimant in a domestic capacity to assist with household chores when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

[12] The defendant states that the claimant was never involved in the operations of the business, and that the only employee of the business was Mr. Kishawn Pierre.

[13] Following the death of the deceased, a meeting was held at an Attorney’s office on 23rd August 2019 (hereafter “the said meeting”) wherein the claimant agreed to vacate the deceased’s residential property by 31st October 2019. The defendant avers that the claimant is now estopped from attempting to assert any beneficial interest or entitlement to any portion of the estate of the deceased.

[14] The defendant states that the continued occupation of the property by the claimant hinders or obstructs her duties as Administratrix.

[15] The defendant avers that her disconnection of the electricity services was in her capacity as Administratrix and was followed upon several requests for the defendant to deliver up possession of the dwelling house. The defendant states that in January 2020, upon investigation, she learnt that the claimant unlawfully permitted her daughter and son in law to occupy the premises. It was thereafter that the defendant caused electricity services to be disconnected. The defendant avers however that she is aware that an alternative form of electricity was being utilized through the use of a generator.

[16] The defendant admits that she forcibly entered the dwelling house but maintains that at the time of her entry into same, the claimant had vacated the premises and was no longer occupying same.

TO BE CONTINUED

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