Checko is facing a lawsuit for one of his calypsos

Checko is facing a lawsuit for one of his calypsos

Abel “Checko” Jno Baptiste, a police officer and calypsonian who was slapped with a $130,000 penalty by High Court Judge Errol Thomas, after he failed to file a defense in a defamatory suit filed by Dr. Philbert Aaron, was given until August 22, 2016 to file and serve his defense on the quantum of money he was ordered to pay by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), failing which the appeal shall stand “dismissed.”

Aaron, the Ambassador to ALBA and Public Relations Officer of the ruling Dominica Labour Party, claimed that a song penned and sung by Checko in 2011 entitled “Bug Her” defamed him.

On January 16, 2013, Dr. Aaron, through his lawyer Noelize Knight-Didier of the Harris and Harris law firm, filed a claim against Checko, claiming that the defendant libeled and slandered him in the song.

In the statement of claim, they requested damages for libel and slander, for aggravated and exemplary damages, an injunction restraining the defendant from further publishing the offending words and or any other words defamatory of Aaron and cost.

Checko filed an acknowledgement of service on February 13, 2013, but he filed no defense within the prescribed time for filing. And on March 6, 2013 Aaron requested an entry of judgment in default and that was obtained on March 13, 2013. A subsequent application to set aside the judgment in default was denied.

In handing down his decision, Justice Errol Thomas awarded $75,000 for general damages, $50,000 for aggravated damages and $5,000 for exemplary damages “on account of the remix of the song because of his desire to win the Road March title.”

Checko’s lawyer Singoalla B. Williams told the ECSC that “we have conceded that we cannot appeal the substantive matter of the case but the quantum.”

She said that she had been in negotiations with Aaron and his lawyer for an amicable and reasonable settlement in the matter but Tropical Storm Erika did not help the situation.

She asked the court for an adjournment to continue negotiations. While that was granted, lawyer for Aaron asked for cost in the amount of $800, which was granted.

The ECSC also granted Aaron’s lawyer until September 19, 2016 to file and respond to any documents from Checko.

They then set the matter for the November 2016 sitting of the court in Dominica.