Saturday 17 February 2018

Journalist and charity director must give evidence in Tony Quinn US lawsuit

Tim Healy

THE High Court has directed that a journalist and an officer of a charitable organisation give evidence as part of a multimillion dollar lawsuit in the United States involving lifestyle guru and businessman Tony Quinn.

Today, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan granted orders that Sunday World journalist Nicola Tallant and Mike Garde, a director of Dialogue Ireland, an ecumenical group whose role includes working with the victims of cults, give testimony (outside court) by deposition as part of legal proceedings in Denver, Colorado.

The US action arises out of the sale of shares in International Natural Energy (INE) LLC- which is the holding company of a firm involved in oil exploration in the central American country of Belize. Tony Quinn was appointed as a director of INE several years ago.

In the proceedings, Colorado resident and former INE director Jean Cornec has brought an action against INE director Susan Morrice, INE itself, its directors and its affiliates.

Mr Cornec claims he has not been paid in full for a $15m sale of his shares to Ms Morrice, who is also the firm's chairperson. The claims are denied.

In a counterclaim, the defendants allege Mr Cornec broke their contract by engaging in wrongful conduct including campaign of disparagement designed to damage the reputation of the the defendants including Mr. Quinn. Mr Cornec denies those allegations.

As part of the proceedings, due to be heard in Colorado in January 2013, lawyers for the defendants secured orders from the District Court in Denver County, Colorado under the requesting the Irish High Court to order Ms Tallant and Mr Garde be deposed as witnesses in the Colorado lawsuit.

The defendants in the US case say that both Mr Garde and Ms Tallant have relevant evidence in relation to the conterclaims and are believed to have been "party to communications relevant to the Colorado proceedings."

At the deposition, both Mr Garde and Ms Tallant will be asked if they were provided with information, had communications and or meetings with parties relevant to the US proceedings.

It is also proposed to ask Ms Tallant, who allegedly wrote several articles concerning Ms Morrice, Mr Quinn and INE, will also be asked to reveal the identities of her sources for stories. Both deponents are requested to have any relevant documents in their possession at the deposition.

Following an ex-parte (one-side only represented) application by lawyers acting for the defendants in the US action, Mr Justice Hogan granted orders under the 1856 Foreign Tribunals (Evidence) Act that Mr Garde and Ms Tallant appear before an appointed examiner for deposition.

The Judge said as it was an ex-parte application, both Ms Tallant and Mr Garde could, if they wish, apply to have the orders set aside.

At the proposed deposition, due to take place next October, both can be examined and cross examined by lawyers involved in the US action. The process is to be videotaped and transcribed by an official stenographer in accordance with the Colorado rules of Civil Procedure. The transcript and video recording are then to be forwarded to the Denver Court.

Earlier this year, and in 2011, lawyers for Mr Cornec asked the High Court for orders allowing them to have Mr Quinn deposed as part of the same set of proceedings.

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