Serial compensation claimants lose first case to come before a court

ireland
Serial Compensation Claimants Lose First Case To Come Before A Court Serial Compensation Claimants Lose First Case To Come Before A Court
Judge Karen Fergus dismissed their claims and awarded legal costs against them, which was stayed to allow the parties consider their positions
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Ruaidhrí Giblin

Four men who have received tens of thousands of euro in compensation payouts over the past 20 years have been accused of putting together a “grand scheme” to falsely pocket compensation from an insurance company.

Dismissing each of their claims for up to €60,000 personal injuries in Tullamore Circuit Court on Thursday, Judge Karen Fergus said all four men had “grossly exaggerated” their claims and had knowingly misled the court, as well as doctors.

She said she would have expected the men to know what is required of them when they speak to solicitors and doctors, given the number of compensation claims they had previously been involved in.

"Most unfortunate"

Judge Fergus said all four men involved in the single vehicle collision seemed to be “most unfortunate” given the number of accidents and incidents that had befallen them in recent years.

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The court heard evidence that they had received tens of thousands of euros in out-of-court settlements for earlier road traffic accidents and matters such as a bad tin of beans. They confirmed under cross-examination that none of their previous compensation claims had come before a court.

Brothers Brendan Leddy and James Leddy, of Granard, Co Longford, as well as cousins Edward Stokes and Michael Stokes Jnr, of Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, had been passengers in a Ford Focus car driven by Brendan Leddy’s wife, Emma O’Keefe, when it was involved in a single car collision on a quiet country lane in Granard, Co Longford, on Sunday, January 25th, 2015.

Garda Justin Browne attended the scene and noted that all four passengers were out of the car when he arrived and none reported any injury. He noted that the car seemed to have hit part of a ditch and that damage to the car was minimal.

Personal injury claims

All four men brought personal injury claims for up to €60,000 each against Ms O’Keeffe’s insurance company, which was fully defended. At the end of the case, counsel for the defence, Keith O’Grady BL, applied to have their claims dismissed as false and misleading under the Civil Liability Act 2004.

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Despite their description of the impact when the car hit a wall, not one of them had a scratch, cut, bruise or broken bone

Judge Fergus said she did not believe the accident happened in the manner as alleged or that the men sustained the level of injuries they claimed. “Despite their description of the impact when the car hit a wall, not one of them had a scratch, cut, bruise or broken bone”.

Judge Fergus said she had a duty to look at all the evidence presented to a court and to ensure that no injustice could be done to a worthy claim.

"Grand scheme"

Having done so in this case, she said she was “entirely satisfied” that this was a “grand scheme put together” by the four men with the aim of “pocketing compensation” from an insurance company.

“All of their complaints were typical of injuries alleged in these types of cases which are almost impossible for doctors to discount.”

She dismissed their claims and awarded legal costs against them, and refused to put a stay on the award of costs.

Earlier incidents

The court heard evidence that Brendan Leddy was involved in a road traffic accident in 2007 in which he injured his neck and back and which was settled outside court for €15,000. The defendant in that case, as in this case, was his wife, Emma O’Keeffe.

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In 2009, he had another road traffic accident in which he injured his back and neck, and which was settled for €10,000.

He was assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) for another incident in October 2014 - three months before the present incident - when he was the passenger in a car which was being driven by his mother, and which was settled for €15,500.

Mr Leddy denied running parallel claims or attempting to mislead the doctors or the court.

James Leddy told the court that he was involved in another road traffic accident in April, 2015, for which he thought he had received some €9,000.

Edward Stokes was involved in a road traffic accident in May 2010, in which he sustained soft tissue injuries to his back, and thinks he got €9,000 for this.

In September 2010, he was stabbed at a wedding and got €5,500 compensation.

Bad tin of beans

In February 2010, he sued a supermarket through his solicitor in Longford for food poisoning over what was described as a bad tin of beans and got €2,000.

In August 2012, he sued another supermarket for another bad tin of beans and again, got €2,000.

In May 2013, he was held up in a bookies at gunpoint and got €5,000 compensation.

In October 2016, a lady drove out in front of him in Dublin and the insurance company settled for €28,500.

The court heard that Mr Stokes was shot in the ankle in 2018.

In June 2020, Mr Stokes was involved in a hit-and-run car crash but took no claim and says he was not injured.

Fell into pothole

Michael Stokes Jnr was involved in a road traffic accident in 2005 in which he injured his shoulder, neck and back and received €40,000 compensation.

Under cross-examination, it emerged he had also been in an accident in 2001 for which he received €10,000.

In 2011, he injured his left knee in a road traffic accident and received €17,600.

He was held at gunpoint in a bookies in 2013, was treated for anxiety, and received €5,000.

In 2016, he fell into a pothole and sued the county council but the case is ongoing.

Another road traffic accident from August 2017 is ongoing.

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