Machel sues TSTT for $2m… Breach of Contract

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Road March champion Machel Montano has sued the Trinidad and Tobago Telecommunications Company (TSTT) for more than $2 million for breach of contract after the local telecom provider suspended its sponsorship deal with him.

In 2013, TSTT, without giving a reason, suspended its sponsorship deal with Montano after he was found guilty of assaulting four persons outside the Zen nightclub in Port-of- Spain on April 26, 2007, and on the charge of using obscene language. 

Montano was ordered to pay fines and compensation totalling $27,000. According to Montano’s lawsuit, he signed a two-year contract with TSTT in November 2012. Certain sponsorship rights went to TSTT which agreed to be the exclusive telecommunications sponsor for Montano.

The lawsuit said between July 2012 and January 2013, Montano duly performed and complied with his sponsorship rights in accordance with the sponsorship agreement. 

Montano received notice from TSTT one day before he was scheduled to perform at the bSquare concert, hosted by bmobile that his contract was suspended and he will not be permitted to perform at the free concert at Woodford Square in Port-of-Spain. He was subsequently notified that all existing arrangements between himself and TSTT were suspended. 

The lawsuit added that media publications of the suspension of his contract prejudiced and compromised his reputation, image and goodwill. It contends that at a meeting with TSTT officials in February 2013, he was informed that the company would reconsider the suspension of the deal and would fulfill some of its obligations under the sponsorship agreement. 

By the end of that year, Montano was told that TSTT will no longer be using him commercially and intended to use him in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme but would not pay him for his services.

This proposal was rejected by Montano’s manager and in January 2014, Montano was told by TSTT that they were willing to try the CSR approach and if there was no public outcry, they would consider moving forward with a commercial programme with the singer. 

This did not materialise. 

Montano’s lawsuit alleged that despite oral and written demands requesting payment of monies due and owing in accordance with the sponsorship agreement, TSTT has refused to remunerate him.

In February, Montano formally terminated the sponsorship agreement with TSTT. He said despite this, TSTT has continued to unlawfully advertise its products and services by using his image and likeness on public buses, newspaper advertisements, public benches, bus stops, online music downloads and at its stores. He is asking for a total of $2,019,167 for the two year period, plus damages for the use of his image and likeness. 

The matter came up for hearing on Tuesday before Justice Nadia Kangaloo in the Port-of-Spain High Court and a case management hearing has been set for June.

Machel is now the Brand Ambassador for another telecom provider, Digicel. He has won the Road March  and Soca Monarch titles several times. Although he did not compete in the Soca Monarch competition this year, he scored a runaway victory for the Road March title.

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