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Gymnastics body wants Williams case thrown out
The T&T Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) is seeking to have gymnast Thema Williams’ multi-million dollar lawsuit against it struck out before it even reaches to trial.
During a case management conference of the case held at Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday the TTGF’s lawyer Justin Junkere submitted that Williams should not have been allowed to bring the lawsuit as other methods of challenging the federation’s handling of her Olympic bid last year were available to her.
Junkere referred to the federation’s internal constitutional which he said prescribes dispute resolution in situations such as Williams’.
Head of Williams’ legal team Martin Daly, SC, asked presiding Judge Frank Seepersad for additional time to respond in writing to Junkere’s application and was granted the extension.
Seepersad stated that the issue must be resolved before the case is allowed to proceed and adjourned to April 25, when he is expected to deliver his decision.
The controversial dispute between the athlete and the federation began after Williams was replaced by Marissa Dick to represent this country at the Olympic Test Event at Rio de Janeiro event in April. Her initial selection was based on her performance at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland on October 23, 2015, where she placed higher than Dick.
Williams claimed that her coach John Geddert was informed by the federation that she was withdrawn because she was injured, a claim which she denies. Alternate athlete Dick was selected to participate in the event instead and eventually qualified becoming the first person to represent T&T in gymnastics at the Olympics.
Last February, photographs of both Williams and Dick posing topless were posted on social media websites and were sent to the federation. The photos were allegedly broadcast by the mother of another gymnast, who claimed that they should not represent T&T.
In her claim for $11.38 million in damages, Williams is claiming compensation for her “loss of opportunity” and damage to her personal and professional reputation allegedly caused by the “harsh and oppressive” actions of the federation’s executive.
Her attorneys are contending that by failing to be given an opportunity to qualify for the last year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, she suffered a huge loss of opportunity of endorsements, motivational speaking engagements and repeated business opportunities as well as a full scholarship to the Michigan State University, which she forewent in her bid to represent T&T at event. Williams is also being represented by Keith Scotland.