Stephen Hart Wins Lawsuit Against TTFA
Halifax Wanderers head coach and general manager Stephen Hart has won a lawsuit against the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association that will see the former Soca Warriors boss awarded 742,444 USD. The court ruling is the result of a dispute regarding unpaid salary and benefits from Hart’s stint in charge of the Trinidad and Tobago national team.
The court case was a win for Hart by default, as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association did not register a defense on its own behalf.
Hart, who opted not to pursue additional damages in the case, sought to be paid the 20,000 USD per month salary he was due from the periods of September to October 2015, September to November 2016, and the 25,000 USD he would have been paid between December 2016 to December 2018 if he had not been sacked by the TTFA in November 2016.
Hart’s lawyers declared that he was owed the full length of the contract beyond his termination because the TTFA did not give him a reason for his firing. Since the TTFA didn’t register a defense on its own behalf, the court filed in favour of Hart’s claim – and that’s where a good bulk of the court-ordered fiscal dues stem from.
The defendant has not only failed to give reasons for its decision to terminate the claimant and allow the claimant a just and fair opportunity to defend himself against any allegations warranting termination but the defendant failed to pay the claimant the fringe benefits owing due to the placement in the hexagonal, in breach of clauses three and eight of the contract, in breach of the contract.Keith Scotland, Reah Sookhai, and Sheriza Khan
Beyond his salary, Hart is also owed some 10,000 USD for making the infamous Hex in CONCACAF World Cup qualification, with the now-Wanderers head coach also claiming 7,444 USD in travel, food, and baggage expenses from his time as the Soca Warriors gaffer.
In addition, the court also ruled that the TTFA was to pay for Hart’s legal fees, which were not publicly disclosed. For his part, Hart just sounds relieved to be done with court proceedings:
I am really and truly grateful to all those who worked hard to bring this to a conclusion because it has been three years and it has not been easy for me and my family. I hold no real ill feelings. I am just happy that this part of it is over because it has been a long wait.Stephen Hart
Of course, there’s no telling when Hart will actually see any of the money the courts have now confirmed he is owed: the TTFA is under plenty of financial burden following similar lawsuits from former technical director Kendall Walkes (who won a lawsuit for 783,000 USD two months ago) and smaller-scale lawsuits from former members of the team’s technical staff.
Beyond that, the TTFA is also facing litigation from various suppliers regarding unpaid bills for goods and services rendered over the course of the last few years. Thus, the money Hart is owed isn’t likely to come quickly from the beleaguered footballing association.
The 59-year-old Trinidadian football coach opted not to comment on the current state of affairs of the national team, which recently called up Halifax Wanderers forward Akeem Garcia:
It is difficult to comment on that because I am on the outside looking in. It is not my place to comment on other people’s work and the programming of national teams because I am not privy to that sort of information.Stephen Hart
The long-time Halifax resident seems glad to have put the court litigation behind him, and with good reason: his east coast club is in the midst of a hefty roster rebuild following a last-place finish in the fall season that saw them only garner one away win in Canadian Premier League action.
Halifax Wanderers President Derek Martin says that a higher pedigree of players will take to the pitch for the Wanderers come 2020, with the club already announcing five returning players ahead of its second-ever season.
The Halifax Wanderers 2020 squad is expected to play in a style closer to what Hart prefers to play, rather than the style he felt best served the injury-plagued team throughout its inaugural campaign. The club has already signed two brand new players to help with this, though the east coast club hasn’t actually revealed who they are as of yet.