A FARRIER and a taxi driver who had an altercation with a debt collector for ACC are suing the bank for damages, in what is thought to be the first legal action of its kind.
Pat Ruane was head-butted by Aidan Faulkner, a soldier turned debt collector, who was dispatched to collect an outstanding €853 debt to ACC.
Another man, Kevin O'Donnell, who was visiting Mr Ruane's yard at the time, alleges he was intimidated by the debt collector.
Faulkner was convicted of assault last year. Now Mr Ruane and Mr O'Donnell are suing the former soldier and ACC Asset Finance.
Evidence in the case will include graphic CCTV footage of Mr Ruane's encounter with Faulkner in his yard over the €843 debt to ACC.
The footage shows Faulkner pushing and head-butting Pat Ruane. Ruane was left with his nose broken in two places and a bleeding lip.
Kevin O'Donnell, a taxi driver, had dropped Pat Ruane home that morning. He was drawn into the encounter when Pat Ruane asked him for help, and claims he was intimidated by Mr Faulkner.
The civil action could prove embarrassing for ACC, which is owned by Dutch Rabbobank. It will also focus attention once again on the often heated confrontations between borrowers and asset recovery agents acting for financial institutions.
Aidan Faulkner, who is from Louth, was working for Auto Trace Solutions, a debt collection and repossession agency at the time. The debt collector got a suspended sentence last year for assaulting Mr Ruane.
During his trial in Castlebar District Court, Judge Mary Devins said ACC's name had been "dragged through the mud".
During one of the court hearings, she commented on how suddenly a commercial transaction with people in suits who are very keen to lend money can quickly "get involved in what can only be described as thugs" when repayments fail.
She said she accepted that Aidan Faulkner was a "pawn", and that if a custodial sentence was to be issued to anybody, it was "those people in suits" who were not before the courts.
Kevin O'Donnell is suing Mr Faulkner and ACC Asset Finance through his solicitors, McDarby & Co in Mayo, for personal injury and stress, while Mr Ruane is taking a similar action through his solicitor, Angela Farrell.