Very Unusual business: man loots after Maria
Very Unusual business: man loots after Maria

A number of Dominican business owners plan to sue the Government for alleged negligence and dereliction of duty that resulted in widespread and wanton looting of their properties following Hurricane Maria.

A search by the SUN newspaper shows that eight businesses have hired a respected Dominican law firm to take the matter to court if Government does settle the issue before that stage.

The search also indicates that the law firm has written to Police Commissioner Daniel Carbon; that letter was copied to Minister of Justice, Immigration & National Security, Rayburn Blackmore, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Attorney General, Levi Peter.

That letter gives Police Commissioner Carbon, and by extension the Government of Dominica, up to 16th March to accept liability and then pay EC$3 million for the losses caused by looting. Or face legal action.

The business owners claim that in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, their business places in Roseau and environs were "extensively burgled, looted and destroyed by persons who entered upon their premises removed the commercial goods and items located therein and destroyed property".

The letter said the business owners believe the looting continued unchecked due "to the dereliction of duty and negligence of members of the Dominica Police Force" and that the Government of Dominica who failed to take action to secure our clients and/or their premises so as to prevent or minimize such activity."

The letter added: "Members of the Police Force were seen facilitating persons involved in the looting and destruction of our clients business places."

The business owners also claim that a number of persons whom they apprehended for "looting, damage and or theft" were released by the police without doing sufficient or any investigations.

The businesses (whose names The Sun has withheld to protect our sources from reprisals) say it is the responsibility of the Government of Dominica to make all the necessary provisions for peace, order and good governance.

"The role of the Commissioner of Police is to ensure good conduct, discipline and control in the Police Force," the letter stated. The business owners say that they are still ascertaining their losses which so far is over EC$ 3 million in "special damages and additional loss of profits by way of general damages still to be fully quantified."

"We look forward to hearing from you in response to our clients' claims and request for amends. Failure to settle the matter on or before March 16, 2018 will result in our client instituting legal proceedings against the relevant parties," the letter states.

The businesses say they remain open to an offer of amends and "hope that this matter may be resolved amicably."