'Homeless' widow offered €800,000 and apartment in Four Seasons
Published 14/02/2013 | 18:34
A WIDOWED mother of two alleged to be "destitute" and "homeless" after her Sandymount home was damaged by escaped water has been offered some €800,000 towards repairs and her chosen alternative accommodation in an apartment in Dublin's five star Four Seasons Hotel.
Ann Marie Glennon Cully indicated she is prepared to accept a €645,000 offer from AXA Insurance Ltd, following earlier payments totalling €159,000, in settlement of injunction proceedings in her action against the insurer.
She and her children Zane and Zara had sued AXA alleging unacceptable delays by it in having their home - Victoria House, St John's Road, Sandymount - reinstated so they could return to live in it.
Axa previously agreed to pay €514,000 for a first phase of repair works but disputed a claim for €256,000 for a second phase. While it paid €,7500 per month for the family's Four Seasons accommodation from October 2011, it argued against continuing to pay that amount after March 2012, instead offering €5,000 per month until repairs were complete.
The house was damaged due to escaped water in late 2009 and, after further such damage in autumn 2011, the family claimed it was uninhabitable.
After late 2009, Zara Cully said she, her mother and brother were on constant duty, night and day, monitoring a water pump in their garden to ensure no further damage and suffered severe hardship, especially in winter 2010. Water saturated the ground floor rooms, there was no heating downstairs and they often had no running water due to frozen pipes. In September 2011, escaped water again flooded the house and they had to leave, she said.
In October 2011, they moved into a one bedroom apartment, plus a standard double room, at the Four Seasons. Since December 2011, they have been living in the one bedroom apartment which her mother described as "cramped".
Ann Marie Glennon Cully said, while there were other houses similar to her home on Dublin's Ailesbury, Shrewsbury and Simmonscourt roads at rents between €7-10,000 monthly, they were not available. They moved into the Four Seasons because it was near their home and the only nearby hotel that would take the children's pets - four dogs and a parrot.
AXA argued she herself chose the "very expensive" Four Seasons and was intent on staying there "at all costs". It claimed she "set her face"
against other substantial family residences and refused to even view a four bedroom house on St John's Road for rent at €1,900 monthly.
Ms Glennon Cully said that house was not "similar" to hers as it was "in St John's Wood, a Housing Estate", semi-detached and one third of the size of her home "with only a tiny garden and not gated".
In the action, Ms Glennon Cully said she discovered significant flooding under the floorboards when the heating system's pipework was being replaced in October 2009. That flooding inflicted extensive damage and a claim was notified to Axa in January 2010.
AXA denied the claims and argued it had tried to reach a fair and reasonable settlement. The matter was complicated because a "restoration" project was underway at Victoria House before the discovery of the escaped of water and it had not obtained details of those works, it claimed.
It also alleged Ms Glennon Cully owned a house in Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow but she replied that was a "small bungalow" needing rewiring and unfit to live in.
In response to AXA's claim there was an issue whether she was married to the late Maurice Cully, who lived in the house until his death, she said the exact status of her relationship was not relevant but she would deal with that if required by the court.
The insurer also alleged Ms Glennon Cully "has a gift for disagreement" and had fallen out with five former advisers. Her counsel Michael Forde SC said today she had explained the reasons for the falling out.
The case was before Mr Justice Peter Kelly via an application by the family for orders, pending a full hearing, requiring AXA pay them sums of €75,000, plus €9,000 due to the Four Seasons and €7,500 per month for their accommodation for the next six months. They also sought orders requiring AXA engage in "bona fide" talks with them to ensure their home be speedily repaired.
The judge, who said AXA appeared to have behaved "reasonably", adjourned the matter for mention tomorrow to allow consultation with Zane on the offer.