Thursday 19 October 2017

Insurance firm's 'scandalous' deal with addict dad

Longford Circuit Court heard that the action dated back to June 2003
Longford Circuit Court heard that the action dated back to June 2003

Brian McDonald

The former Quinn Insurance had acted in an "outrageous and scandalous" manner by doing a deal with the alcoholic and drug-addicted father of an infant plaintiff injured in a car accident.

An ex-garda working for the now defunct insurance company - it was taken over by US giant, Liberty Mutual in November 2011 - offered the man €4,000, knowing he was a soft target, to ensure court action would not go ahead.

Neither the child nor his sister who was also injured in the accident ever benefited from the deal and the money was spent by the father on drink and drugs.

Longford Circuit Court heard that the action dated back to June 2003 when the child, who was then two-and-a-half, was involved in a traffic accident. He was being carried by his sister when they were knocked down by a car.

Barrister Gerard Groarke told Judge Keenan Johnson that, within a couple of weeks a retired garda, working on behalf of Quinn Insurance, approached the children's father. The father was a drug addict and alcoholic and was known by the ex-garda to have served time in prison.

The ex-garda offered him €4,000 - €2,000 on behalf of each child - on condition he made sure that no further proceedings were brought. The €4,000 was paid over and it benefited neither child, Mr Groarke said.

"The father will admit it was spent on drink in pubs and up alleyways on various substances. He was on the run at the time and his family did what he said," Mr Groarke told the court.

The matter only came to light years later when the sister of the plaintiff enquired if there was money being held somewhere for her.

The proceedings before the court were in the name of the infant plaintiff suing by his mother against Quinn Insurance, now trading as Liberty Insurance.

Mr Groarke said the details of the case had been heard before another judge in December and the reason it had come before Judge Keenan Johnson in Longford was because a settlement offer of €30,000 had now been made by the defendants. He was not recommending the settlement offer to the court.

The insurance company knew that the money was to go to the child plaintiffs and their actions were geared solely to generate profit for themselves, he pointed out.

The judge said the message had to be sent out to insurance companies in cases like this and said he considered €60,000 to be more appropriate.

Irish Independent

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