Friday 23 March 2018

Judge throws out ‘frivolous, vexatious’ case by failed-libel golfer

Tim Healy

A RETIRED insurance official who lost a libel action against a golf club earlier this year has had a separate case over his employment dismissed as frivolous and vexatious.

In July last, Thomas Talbot (75) lost a defamation action against Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, Dublin, which he claimed had effectively labelled him as a cheater by issuing a notice to him about his playing handicap.

Since 2006, Mr Talbot has also had a number of separate proceedings against Aviva Insurance (formerly Hibernian) and the Unite trade union (formerly Amicus) arising out of grievances with the company, from when he began his employment in 1973 to beyond his retirement in 2001. He claimed wrongdoing by the insurance company over the nature and volume of work he was required to undertake as well as his level of remuneration and pension entitlements.

He also brought the case against the union over what he said was its failure to protect him from the company's activities.

The case against the union was previously struck out and Aviva asked Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne to dismiss the action against it on grounds it was frivolous, vexatious, disclosed no reasonable cause of action and represented an abuse of the court.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Dunne granted Aviva its application and also made an order restraining him from bringing any further proceedings against the company without first getting the permission of the court.

The judge said she herself had in January 2007 struck out proceedings by Mr Talbot against his former employer and the union, saying it as impossible to see precisely what he was claiming for.

Eleven days later, he issued new proceedings against the company and the union, and this time he also made a number of allegations including fraud, intimidation, perverting justice and discrimination, the judge said.

The defendants, who denied his claims, applied to have the new action struck out which was granted by the High Court in November 2007, Ms Justice Dunne said.

He appealed and the Supreme Court, in March 2009, agreed with the High Court ruling. Then Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns commented Mr Talbot could be described as a "serial litigator" because he had engaged in some form of litigation over a 20-year period.

He brought new High Court proceedings in September 2009, this time also joining as defendants the solicitors McCann Fitzgerald who had acted for Mr Talbot's wife in matrimonial proceedings between them, Ms Justice Dunne said in her judgment yesterday.

The trade union and McCann Fitzgerald then applied to have the case against them dismissed and in October 2010, Mr Justice Michael Hanna struck it out commenting that Mr Talbot sought to use the courts of Ireland "as a battlefield to wage unrelenting war" against the trade union.

The court made an order, at that time, preventing him from taking any further action against the union. Mr Justice Hanna also said Mr Talbot's claims against the solicitors, which arose because a number of orders went against him in the family law courts, were unsustainable in law and arose because he (Talbot) wanted to "vent his spleen" over his legal reverses.

Aviva's application to strike out the new case against it was then heard by Ms Justice Dunne who yesterday noted Mr Talbot simply "did not engage" with the issue before the court.

She reitereated Mr Justice Hanna's view that he was using the case as a means to vent his spleen and also said he had done nothing to advance matters since the original 2006/7 proceedings.

She also granted Aviva its costs.

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