Sunday 10 December 2017

Judge asks family living in Four Seasons to consider 'more modest accommodation'

Ann Marie Glennon Cully
Ann Marie Glennon Cully

A FAMILY cannot continue indefinitely in "extraordinarily expensive" accommodation in Dublin's five star Four Seasons Hotel until their flood-damaged home in is repaired, a judge said today.

Ann Marie Glennon Cully and her children Zane and Zara might consider "reducing their standard of living" to "more modest accommodation", Mr Justice Peter Kelly said in the High Court.


He described as "very reasonable" an offer by insurer AXA to pay €645,000 towards reinstating their "effectively derelict" home at Victoria House, St John's Road, Sandymount, Dublin, and funding alternative accommodation until works were complete.


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: "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.


Ms Glennon Cully had engaged three loss adjusters but dispensed with their services, three engineers "met a similar fate" and a broker "likewise departed the scene", he said.


"It is difficult to see how any insurance company can be expected to deal with a claim where the dramatis personae are constantly changing."


The family could also not reasonably expect to be accommodated in the Four Seasons for "a seemingly never ending period of time until advisers are found to satisfy them."


Earlier, he said it seemed works were underway at Victoria House when the first flooding incident occurred in late 2009. While the court had heard "graphic descriptions" of the damage and the family claimed they wanted to repair it and move back in, it was "remarkable" nothing substantial had been done to date, especially as AXA previously paid some €159,000.


There was "no reasonable basis" for criticising AXA as it had tried to sensibly resolve the claim, he said.


He made the comments when refusing the family's application for certain orders against AXA Insurance Ltd pending a full hearing of their action arising from the flood damage in late 2009 and autumn 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 Ann Marie Glennon Cully was "impossible" to deal with and should organise the remediation works herself.


While it was initially indicated the family were likely to accept that offer, that did not happen and the injunction application proceeded yesterday.


Dr Michael Forde SC, for Ms Glennon Cully, sought orders including that AXA pay €645,000 into court to fund repairs and alternative accommodation and directing his side to organise reinstatement works and do their best to get insurance cover.


The family would be "on the side of the street" if the orders 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.


Paul Fogarty, for AXA, said Victoria House was "a building site" before the water escape of autumn 2009 after which there were "extraordinary delays" by Ms Glennon Cully in making a formal claim and dealing with AXA.


Three years have elapsed since the actual loss occurred but there is still no information about Ms Glennon Cully's proposed works and AXA could no longer deal with her as it was a "dialogue with the deaf".


Since March 2012,  AXA offered the family some €600,000 to do the works themselves. AXA had paid €159,000 "with very little benefit" but it seemed the family want AXA to do the works and insure the premises throughout which would leave AXA open to other claims, he said.


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.

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