(Trinidad Guardian) A 32-year-old nursing assistant has lost her protracted bid to retain control of a multi-million property owned by an elderly doctor, with whom she shared a relationship, before his death in 2015.
Delivering an oral judgement following a brief virtual trial yesterday, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad ordered that Olivia Springer relinquish control of the five-bedroom house in Arima to the son and ex-wife of Dr Ram Singh.
While Seepersad did rule that Springer had a relationship with Singh before his death, he noted that she did not have a legal interest in the property, which was not included in his will.
Despite his ruling on the issue, Seepersad refused to order that Springer pay Singh’s son Kieron and his mother Takwati Balroop compensation for trespassing on the property, after Singh’s death, as he accepted that it was probable that Singh had given assurances to Springer, which he did not take steps to make legally binding and she relied on.
Noting that Singh was almost 60-years-old the time and Springer was in her 20s, Seepersad suggested that his actions were “reflective of his dismissive attitude towards women”.
Although Seepersad admitted that he had no choice but to order that furniture in the house and Singh’s car, which were also kept by Springer, should be vested in Singh’s estate along with the property, he still appealed to Singh’s son and his mother to consider gifting Springer the items based on Singh’s treatment of her.
“She is young enough to learn from the experience and move on,” Seepersad said as he gave Springer until April to hand over the house.
“One hopes that his (Singh) sons do not carry on that legacy of behaviour engaged by the father,” he added, as he noted that women should not be treated as “play things”.
Attorney Haresh Ramnath, who represented the family, said that his clients had already considered Seepersad’s suggestion over the furniture and car and such would be facilitated.
According to the evidence in the case, the dispute over the property began when Singh passed away from a heart attack in February 2015.
Springer refused to vacate the property as she claimed that it was purchased by Singh in 2012 for them to start a family. She also contended that she invested over $200,000 of her own money in renovating it.
In her evidence, Springer claimed that Singh wooed her after they met at the La Horquetta Health Centre, where she worked in 2011.
She claimed that she moved in with Singh and then they began searching together for a property to raise a family.
“It was our home,” Springer said repeatedly as she was quizzed by Ramnath over her contribution to the purchase.
Springer also attached photographs of them together taken while they were vacationing in Margarita Island, Venezuela, before his eventual death.
In their lawsuit, the family claimed that a year before Singh purchased the $2.3 million property in Arima, he approached Balroop to serve as guarantor on the mortgage for another property deal that eventually fell through.
They claimed that he used the money to purchase the property in Arima and after his death, the mortgage was repaid with his life insurance.
They alleged that a year after his funeral, Springer sought an order under the Cohabitation Relationships Act over the property, which was dismissed.
In response to the family’s lawsuit, Springer filed a counterclaim seeking a constructive trust over the property based on her relationship with Singh.
As part of his decision in the case, Seepersad also ordered Springer to pay the legal costs the family incurred in pursuing the litigation.
Springer was represented by Shaneis Murray.