The Daily Herald reports today that the Court of First Instance is to decide next month in a conflict between Lockie Jayne Johnson-McGehee and University of St. Eustatius School of Medicine (USESOM) in Cole Bay, which put a lien on Johnson’s liquid assets. Johnson and her husband, in their turn, claim approximately US $70,000 in unpaid salaries from the med school.
In a regular court procedure, the Judge decided previously that the university’s $60,000 claim on Johnson was unfounded, which was reason for Johnson to request the Court to lift the lien.
The medical school appealed the decision, as it wanted to keep the lien in place in case the Court would rule in its favour in the appeal case.
The Johnsons own real estate in Saba with an estimated value of $500,000, which is mortgaged for half the amount, Johnson’s attorney Jairo Bloem said. According to the lawyer, there was enough overvalue, but despite that the medical school had placed liens on Johnson’s bank accounts and salaries instead. Bloem said this had led
to a situation in which the Johnsons have to live off $400 per month, plus Joe Johnson’s pension, whereas the university generates an annual income of $8 million. However, USESOM contested the amount.
The university is claiming the money from Johnson because she allegedly broke the terms of her contract unilaterally. However, according to her lawyer, the entire board and supervisory board had stepped down at the same time.
The lien would make it virtually impossible for the Johnsons to invest in a bar-restaurant for students at Saba University School of Medicine, it was further stated during Friday’s hearing.
USESOM’s lawyer Camiel Koster claimed the lien would not lead to an intolerable situation for the Johnsons.
The university has proposed to lift the lien against a bank guarantee, but the Johnsons would not accept that, Koster pointed out. He also stated that the ruling on the appeal of the regular court case was expected in March 2015, which would mean that the lien would not be in place for an extended period of time.
Johnson also addressed the Court personally. In an emotional statement she said the med school owner had made
many promises concerning the necessary funds to obtain accreditation for the institution. She said she had worked hard in achieving that goal, but payment of salaries and bills had stopped in October 2013.
Johnson, who had been employed with USESOM for seven months, resigned last year for what she said were urgent reasons. She currently is working for the Medical School in Saba.
The Court will give its decision in this case on December 5.