THE ex-girlfriend of a bank official forced to hand over €7.6m during a tiger kidnapping is suing the bank for alleged negligence.
Stephanie Smith (24) was in a relationship with Bank of Ireland employee Shane Travers, who on February 26, 2006, was forced, while armed, masked robbers held her and two of her family members hostage, to hand over the money taken from BoI's premises at College Green, Dublin.
She claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as a result of her ordeal.
In her action against the Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland, Ms Smith, from Stonebridge House, Badger Hill, Kill, Co Kildare, says the bank failed to have any regard for the health and safety of its employee's cohabitants.
It is also claimed BoI exposed her to a foreseeable security-related injury and to danger and injury, which it ought to have known. BoI failed in its duty of care to her, it is further alleged. BoI denies all the claims against it. In its defence, BoI denies it owes Ms Smith any duty of care.
Yesterday, when the matter came before High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, he directed trial of a preliminary issue before the main case.
The issue is whether, on the facts pleaded, BoI owed a duty of care to Ms Smith at common law or had a statutory duty in the terms pleaded in her personal injuries summons.
In his ruling, the judge said while what had happened to Ms Smith was "horrific", he agreed with lawyers for the bank that what was "a novel" claim should be tried on a preliminary issue.
In her statement of claim, Ms Smith says she and her mother were approached by an armed gang of masked men outside Ms Smith's home.
Mr Travers, who was her cohabitant at the time, and her young nephew were present in the house. All four were taken captive. Mr Travers was warned he would be kneecapped, while one of the gang threatened "to blow her head off". She claims they were told nothing would happen to them if Mr Travers "did what he was told". Mr Travers was eventually taken away, while Ms Smith, her mother and nephew were bundled into the back of a van.
After the gang members left the van, Ms Smith managed to free herself and the others. They were picked up in Ashbourne, Co Meath, and were taken to a garda station.