Car crash woman loses claim over mowing lawn
Published 31/07/2010 | 05:00
A WOMAN who initially claimed up to €410,000 in damages over whiplash from an accident had her High Court action dismissed after a video tape showed her mowing her lawn for 40 minutes.
A judge said it was "highly probable" that Mary Farrell, of Tolka Valley Green, Finglas, Co Dublin, gave misleading evidence as to the extent of her injuries and about her capacity to work arising out of her claim against Dublin Bus following a collision between a bus and her car on June 14, 2004, at the junction of North Circular Road and Dorset Street in Dublin.
Dublin Bus produced video evidence of her mowing her lawn and raising her arm to empty the grass, which the company claimed was entirely inconsistent with her claims about the extent of her injuries.
Mr Justice John Quirke ruled that Ms Farrell, who worked with Jury's hotel as a housekeeper/cleaner, had given no credible explanation for her failure to provide any evidence to support her claim for loss of earnings or to contest Dublin Bus's allegation her claims were "false and misleading".
There was also no credible explanation for the undisputed fact that Ms Farrell abandoned claims for very large sums of money when advised she was being investigated, he said.
He rejected the portrayal of Ms Farrell as a "naive, unquestioning person, uninformed and unaware of appropriate legal procedures" who had unwittingly failed to disclose earnings she considered unimportant and irrelevant to her claim.
He also found no evidence to explain her "comfortable lifestyle" between 2004 and 2008 when she claimed to have been incapable of earning and was dependent on social welfare benefits.
In her action, Ms Farrell claimed her vehicle was stationary at traffic lights when the collision occurred and she suffered a whiplash-type injury to her neck.
Liability for the accident was conceded by Dublin Bus and the case had proceeded as an assessment of damages only. However, the company took issue with the amount of damages sought and Ms Farrell later abandoned some aspects of her claim.
The company applied to have the claim dismissed under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, which allows for the dismissal of claims where a court considers a person gave material misleading evidence to boost their claim or in support of a false claim.
In his decision, the judge said Ms Farrell's claim that she had not worked at any time between the date of the road accident and July 2008 because of her injury was not true.
Ms Farrell agreed she had bought a €6,700 taxi plate in October 2007, entitling her to work as a taxi driver.
She also agreed she purchased a new black Toyota Avensis car in 2005 at a cost of "€25,000 or €26,000" on hire purchase with repayments of €460 per month and a new Toyota Corolla in 2006 for between €26,000 and €28,000.
She had also flown to the United States twice a year between 1999 and 2007 at a cost of more than €600 per flight. She also went to Italy at least once every year on holiday.
She agreed that between June 2004 and August 2008 she was in receipt of a social welfare illness benefit of €148 per week, the judge noted.
He found it was highly probable that Ms Farrell had, with the benefit of experienced professional advice, given evidence that she knew was misleading and it was probable she did so to support her claim that her injuries deprived her of any income from the date of her accident.
If successful, she would have secured a significant six-figure sum and it was highly probable she knew that, he said.
On the basis of all his findings, he was satisfied Dublin Bus was entitled to an order dismissing the claim.
The judge also noted Ms Farrell had agreed she received a damages award of €2,500 to compensate her for injuries suffered in a road traffic accident in 1995; €18,000 for injuries in a road accident in 1999 and €5,620 from Dublin Bus to compensate her for damage to her car which resulted from the road accident in this case.