€6,550 for lawyer defamed in letter
A SOLICITOR has been awarded €6,550 in damages after a High Court jury found he was defamed by another lawyer in a letter.
Owen Swaine brought the action over the letter faxed to his office from Patrick M Keane in September 2009.
The letter falsely alleged there were criminal proceedings pending against Mr Swaine, over the manner of his dealings with Mr Keane in an effort to get a payment from him of €350,000 for a client.
Mr Swaine was seeking payment of a €350,000 judgment obtained on consent in February 2009 in favour of the client, a doctor, against Mr Keane and two other men arising from involvement of all four in a nursing home in Oranmore, Co Galway, the court was told.
Mr Keane denied defamation and also pleaded the letter at issue, dated September 9, 2009, and other correspondence complained of, were legally privileged documents. The case by Mr Swaine, with a practice at Fr Griffin Street, Galway, against Mr Keane, Hardiman House, Eyre Square, Galway, opened before Mr Justice Eamon de Valera and a jury on Tuesday.
Yesterday, a jury of six men and six women unanimously found the letter was defamatory and had been published. They awarded €5,700 in general damages and €850 in aggravated damages.
The court heard that one of Mr Swaine's clients, an Iraqi doctor, had brought a case to have his share of a nursing home bought out and secured judgment on consent for €350,000 against Mr Keane and two other men.
The money was not paid when it should have been and Mr Keane later became the main focus for collection of it as one of the other men had died and the second was not regarded as "a mark" for payment, Eanna Mulloy, counsel for Mr Swaine, said.