PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Vernon Richards, who was dismissed by the NIPA Board in June of this year, got his date in Court last Wednesday. Richards has remained silent on his dismissal but we received information that he engaged the services of Attorney at Law Cindy Marica – Henderson (Mariflex Attorneys)shortly after his dismissal. Richards hoped that the intervention from the Minister and the fact that the (authorized and duly planned) open house turned out to be a great success, would be reasons for the Board to reconsider the dismissal. Despite several attempts from the Minister to resolve this matter, NIPA remained steadfast in their decision pertaining to Richard’s decision. We were made to understand that the staff of the NIPA supported Richards. We learned that NIPA Attorney at Law Reynold Groeneveld filed a dissolution procedure and that Richard’s Attorney Cindy Marica – Henderson summoned NIPA to reinstate him and pay his outstanding salaries sometime in August.
Because NIPA didn’t respond to the summons an injunction procedure was submitted by Richards’ Attorney at Law Cindy Marica – Henderson in which she requested that the dismissal is declared null and void and that NIPA was condemned to pay outstanding salaries from July until September 2015 and continued salary payments until the agreement of parties was legally dissolved. Richards also demanded reinstatement as Director II at the NIPA. We understand that Richards was fully supported by staffmembers of NIPA. They signed a statement about Richards his professionalism, quality and referred to him as a charismatic Director. The staff supported Richards in his claim that he didn’t disturb the relationship and that he should be reinstated at NIPA as Director
Attorney at Law Reynold Groeneveld’s conditional dissolution request in which the Court was requested to dissolve the labor agreement in as far as it was still valid was also handled. NIPA accused Richards of not following orders and undermining of their authority. NIPA claimed that because of Richards’ actions the relationship was damaged beyond repair and that Richards failed to follow the Board’s instructions regarding the open house for which several dignitaries were invited.
Richards’ attorney denied that there were grounds for a dissolution and requested the Court to deny the request. She also filed a conditional counterclaim in the dissolution procedure and requested the Court to award Richards a reasonable compensation based on his years of service, in the event the judge would still decide to dissolve the agreement.
Several members of NIPA’s Board were also present during the hearing and Richards was supported by family members. During the hearing Attorney at Law Jason Rogers presenting pleadings on behalf of Attorney Marica – Henderson indicated that the relationship is not damaged beyond repair. A Statutory Director was appointed in August (Mrs. E. Richardson) and she would be the person dealing directly with the Board and Richards would no longer have to. He considered that a reinstatement of Richards should not be a problem. Attorney Jason Rogers also referred to the good relationship with the staff with whom Richards had to deal with on a daily basis, which he supported with the statements signed by the staff.
At the end of the court session the judge advised parties to discuss a settlement, maybe through intervention of a third party. Parties must inform the judge by October 7th 2015 if a settlement was reached. The judge will have to render a decision if parties are unable to do so.