Reduce your standard of living, judge tells family staying in five-star hotel
Published 20/02/2013 | 04:00
A FAMILY cannot continue to live indefinitely in "extraordinarily expensive" accommodation in Dublin's five-star Four Seasons Hotel until their flood-damaged home is repaired, a judge has warned.
The High Court judge told the family living in the luxury hotel that they should consider "reducing their standard of living" to "more modest accommodation" while they are battling their insurance company.
Widow Ann Marie Glennon Cully and her children Zane and Zara have been living at the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge since their home in nearby Sandymount was flooded in October 2011.
They failed to reach an expected settlement with their insurers AXA last week which would have seen the company pay €645,000 in repair costs as well as continue to pay for the family's accommodation until the repairs were completed.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said that the family cannot continue to live indefinitely in the "extraordinarily expensive" hotel and said they might consider "reducing their standard of living" to "more modest accommodation".
He described AXA's offer towards reinstating their flooded home at Victoria House, St John's Road, Sandymount, and funding alternative accommodation until works were complete as "very reasonable".
AXA's offer also gave an option of seeking additional payments should the works cost more and, while he could not compel them to accept it, Justice Kelly said: "I would not look a gift horse in the mouth."
The family, whose home was first flood-damaged in late 2009 and who moved into the hotel in October 2011, are adults who "have to behave sensibly" and it was up to them to get on with the repairs, he said.
The judge made his comments when refusing the family's application for a number of orders against AXA Insurance Ltd, pending a full hearing of their action arising from flood damage to their home initially sustained in late 2009 with further damage occurring in October 2011.
The family applied last week for injunctions requiring AXA pay them an interim €100,000 to meet payments including for another six months in the Four Seasons.
AXA offered a lump sum of €645,000 after claiming Ms Glennon Cully was "impossible" to deal with and should organise the remediation works herself.
Outside the court her son Zane stood by the family's legal action and defended their living arrangements, saying: "Our claim against AXA has been valued by our experts at around at least €800,000 and we anticipate succeeding at the trial."
And he added: "As for the judge's repeated references to the Four Seasons, we stay in a one-bedroom apartment, costing €700 per week and not, as it may appear, in luxury costing €7,500 a month."
The insurance firm had paid €7,500 a month for accommodation but reduced that to €5,000 per month in March 2012. In other comments, Mr Justice Kelly noted that Ms Glennon Cully had engaged three loss adjusters but dispensed with their services.
He said that three engineers "met a similar fate" and a broker "likewise departed the scene".
Dr Michael Forde, counsel for Ms Glennon Cully, had argued that the family would be "on the side of the street" if the orders they sought were refused.
He said the conditions they had endured before leaving their home were "quite shocking" and AXA, not them, had behaved unreasonably and in breach of their policy.
Refusing to order AXA pay the €645,000 offer into court, Mr Justice Kelly said that money was available now to the family should they choose to accept it and the court could not be a "project manager" for repairs.
He also refused to order AXA pay €50,000 legal costs of the family or continue to insure the property.