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US investor sues tourism agencies  Aug 10, 2008

An American investor has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and the attorney general for damages amoun-ting to US$3 million (approximately J$216 million).

Gregory Naldrett, operator of River Walk Limited - parent company of Mayfield Falls - said he was suing the government-run entities after all attempts by him and his lawyer Nigel Jones to reach an amicable solution since 1999 had failed.

The lawsuit follows a long-running dispute between Naldrett and Sarah Willis, who has been operating the Mayfields Fall and Mineral Spring adjacent to Naldrett's attraction, located at the border of Westmoreland and Hanover.

Naldrett claims that having a licence to operate gives him the legal exclusive right to operate tours on the river, adding that the tourism authorities erred in granting another licence to Sarah Willis to operate the same business, on a neighbouring river, for six years.

That licence has expired, but Willis is still operating.

"I am prepared to forego the lawsuit if the government decides to pay me for damages, or I will give up the business if they will pay me US$3 million. They have frustrated me enough," Naldrett told The Sunday Gleaner.

His attorney disclosed last week that his client was claiming aggravated and exemplary damages for negligence and breach of contractual and statutory duties, as well as interest, pursuant to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

Unaware of suit

Meanwhile, Willis has taken a wait-and-see attitude to the matter.

"The way of life of the people is where I am focusing now instead of fighting. I have lost five of my best accounts. If I am compensated, I can walk away. Otherwise, I will stay," Willis declared.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said he was not aware that the JTB was being sued. He promised to check into the matter and respond, but up to press time, he had not returned calls.

However, TPDCO's chairman, Robert Russell, said he had knowledge of the lawsuit and that the matter had been forwarded to the solicitor general.

But, when contacted, Solicitor General Douglas Leys said he was not aware of the suit.

"Dozens of lawsuits are filed against the attorney general each week. I can't say if we will contest or settle in this matter because I am not privy to the facts or the allegations," said Leys.

US investor sues tourism agencies

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