The legal war for the Mek Mi Rich game show concluded today inside the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice, Courtenay Abel. Last year Corozal businessman, Curtis Dale Swasey took Belize Telemedia Limited and Mek Mi Rich to court for stealing his game show idea. Swasey told the court that he had developed an idea of a lottery game show involving cell phone texting. He called it Super Slam Sunday. He took his idea to BTL and over a course of two years and eight months he had been working with the technical minds at BTL to develop his idea. However, in August 2014, BTL sent him a letter informing him that his game show idea did not fit within BTL goals and so it was rejected. A month later, Mek Mi Rich premiered on local television and Swasey then believed that he was bamboozled. Today in court, Justice Abel, who said that BTL and MMR were doing something shady together, ruled in Swasey’s favor awarding him twenty five thousand dollars in damages. He was represented by Attorney Kareem Musa.
“It’s a huge moral victory, it’s a huge victory on principle for Mr. Swasey. I want to first of all commend him. In my view he is a modern day David that went against the big telecommunications giant Goliath; BTL, and as we all know who those principles are of BTL and of Mek Mi Rich. He took on the giants and came out victorious today. I am extremely proud of him for taking a stand because from the very moment I met Mr. Swasey, I knew for a fact he had been wronged and it was just a matter of taking it before the Courts and to prove that in fact, over the course of two and a half years BTL manipulated and extracted information from Mr. Swasey and thereafter shared that information with Mek Mi Rich. So today’s vindication is a huge victory and I am very proud of Mr. Swasey for stepping forward.”
“Kareem the judge was clearly not happy with the twenty five thousand dollar quantum that he had to work with. Is there any recourse on your client’s part to maybe pursue a civil matter?”
“Well certainly the issue of damages, we have some concern with that. The learned trial judge found that the only evidence before the court was a twenty five thousand dollar fee that was paid by Mr. Vega, by MMR, to BTL so there wasn’t much else to go on but our position was that in fact the damages were to be awarded to Mr. Swasey should have been based on royalty and to be tacked on to the profits of MMR because I don’t know if they are still operating but had they still been operating then he should have been entitled to a royalty of their profits. There was no way of us actually getting that information from MMR to see what profits they were getting. So all we had to go on was based on projections that were provided by MMR. We don’t actually have their financials, their statements to show exactly how much profits they made so that is a huge difficult in this case, that we did not have access to their information so had we gotten that information, no doubt we could have gone even further.”
Attorney Naima Barrow who represented Mek Mi Rich and Attorney for BTL, Magali Perdomo, shared their interpretation of the Justice’s ruling.
“It’s not a judgment I am comfortable with or would be comfortable taking but the case is not mine. The case belongs to my client, they were not here today, the representatives weren’t able to make it so was to take instructions on what was to come of this but it is not a judgment I would comfortably walk away with and say justice has been done. It’s not one of those.”
“Would you say that this has been a victory for the claimant?”
“It is a clear out victory, a clear out victory for the claimant. Everything he has claimed has been awarded to him and costs. He is in a good place sitting down which is why I am so uncomfortable with where we are now.”
“In your argument it appears that you and the judge had different interpretations of certain things. What were some of those basic differences of interpreting it.”
“The difference in interpretation is not it. The law is there. I think we are agreed on the law. As to the evaluation of the evidence we are disagreed on. I think in essence what the judge found was that there was some shady business happening between BTL and MMR because months after the dealing with the claimant ended, MMR’s business started. Our case was that they had been in discussions for over a year so it was not an instantaneous and immediate thing and the judge never put much weight in it. It was just a matter of that the judge was not satisfied that the dealings were above board. The word he used was Shady. That was his interpretation and reception of the evidence given to him and it is his right as the judge to assess that evidence. His assessment I don’t agree with but that is where we are and that is the law until something else is done.”
“I don’t know how it could be that the entire company suffers a moral hit because of one claimant and one claim. As council for MMR has said, we are all agreed on the law. What we disagreed on was the judges interpretation of the evidence and the judgment does say that the decision is based on circumstances and circumstantial evidence so it’s not a substantial direct evidence so I will be speaking to my clients and taking instructions on the appeal. It’s not a place we are comfortable with at all.”
Mek Mi Rich remains as an existing company in law but the game show itself has been put on pause. There last drawing was in September of last year. The Directors of Mek Mi Rich are Andre Vega, the son of Deputy Prime Minister Gasper Vega and Sanjay Hotchandani.