Central businessman to pay former WI cricketer $800,000 for Facebook defamation

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Dinanath Ramnarin

A central businessman and cricket administrator was ordered to pay former West Indian spin bowler Dinanath Ramnarine $831,823.65 for a “libelous rampage on Facebook” in 2016.

Rafi Ali, who was an appointed member of the TTCB, his central zonal council and chairman of Esmeralda Cricket Club, was ordered to pay Ramnarine $775,000 in damages plus interest and a further $56,823.65 in damages. legal fees, by Attorney Martha Alexander in a recent decision.

Ramnarine took legal action after Ali posted a comment on his Facebook page while the former West Indies cricketer was at the Sports Company.

Ali also emailed TTCB members and reposted a message on Facebook inserting his own comment “to demonstrate his ill will and bad faith” towards Ramnarine, according to the ruling,

Alexander said Ali acted deliberately, mockingly and maliciously.

In ordering the payment of compensation, she said it would “serve as a warning to any defendant who uses Facebook or any other social media platform to defame and destroy a plaintiff’s reputation that they will feel the punitive arm of the court acting to deter such conduct”.

She said the defamation of Ali on Facebook was staged to destroy Ramnarine’s reputation.

“And the court must send a message that such reckless abuse of social media platforms must stop.

“The defendant in this court will not be permitted to use Facebook to increase his popularity at the plaintiff’s expense or ‘to sell another man’s reputation for profit’.

“If a defendant’s sport of choice is Facebook defamation, the consequences of such virtual sports defamation must burn the defendant’s pockets to achieve deterrence… This would act as a punishment for that defendant and a deterrent to him and others that defamation on Facebook is not a sport in which to engage.”

She said Ramnarine had “huge footprints both locally and regionally” and as a sports personality he was present and instrumental in the governance and development of the sports of cricket and football.

“This is not a suitor who is an unknown, voiceless or uncontributing participant in the sporting arena. This is a suitor whose name is widely recognized, commands respect around the world and whose the contribution to the world of sport is undisputed.

Alexander said Facebook’s “foolproof spread” of defamation was common knowledge to users of the platform, who “must be assumed to know and intend to spread the defamation worldwide.”

She also said Facebook defamation is a growing platform for any defendant “who wants to act with impunity by ignoring the many legal warnings issued to Facebook users to refrain from murder. characters online because of the far-reaching consequences of defamation”.

In Ramnarine’s case, the defamatory materials “were offensive, blatant and intended to hurt him” by sending them to millions of people.

She said Ali, as a member of the TTCB, would have taken advantage of tarnishing Ramnarine’s reputation for integrity and professionalism.

“A defamed person cannot hide or escape Facebook defamation, for it follows them into their house, behind closed doors, and everywhere they go. Defamation on Facebook is pervasive, leaving inevitable stigmas that survive long after offensive words are no longer topics of discussion online.

She said it was assumed that Ali intended to attract maximum attention and do maximum damage through his actions and took no steps to mitigate his harm, without even asking. apologize to Ramnarine.

“It was alleged that he understood his influence with his audience online and in the sports industry, when he set out to destroy the plaintiff’s career with his Facebook defamation.

“In the face of his libelous carnage, the defendant refused to apologize and continued his own career unmolested, while the plaintiff had to deal with the professional and personal damage caused by the libel.”

At the High Court level, Ali did not defend the case brought against him in 2019 by Ramnarine, who received a default judgment in September 2020.

Alexander said that when he went on his libelous rampage, Ali was “indifferent to the wreckage he would leave in the way of his libelous rampage, especially the damage done to the sports industry.”

In reviewing the defamation, she used strong language to describe the words Ali used and their effect on Ramnarine, and said the seriousness of the defamation was indisputable and undisputed.

“The court therefore recognized that the defamatory statements were serious, derisory and offensive, and far from inconsequential. In the court’s view, the defendant was fully aware of what he was doing when he went to his Facebook page and creatively previewed his attack with the post.

“Those were grim words used to announce that he was providing ‘food for thought’ and something worthy of serious consideration was about to follow.”

Ali was accused of carefully previewing his defamatory comments to ‘wait his audience’s appetite’ and sensationalizing the presentation for maximum effect.

Ramnarine was represented by lawyers Vivek Lakhan-Joseph and Savini Balroop. A 48-day stay of court orders was granted.

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