Monday 14 October 2019

Rihanna fails to halt 'malicious falsehoods' case brought by Irish woman

Pic shows: Irish bodyguard Geoffrey Keating and Rihanna
Pic shows: Irish bodyguard Geoffrey Keating and Rihanna

Tim Healy

Singer Rihanna has failed to halt High Court proceedings brought against her by an Irish woman over alleged "malicious falsehoods" in an email and a phone call.

Dana Kavanagh (43), Woodbank Drive, Valley Park, Finglas, Dublin is suing Rihanna under the name "Robyn Fenty aka Rihanna", with an address at Lafayette Street, New York.

Last month, Rihanna asked the court to set aside service of Ms Kavanagh's proceedings on her at her New York home claiming it was not done in accordance with law.   Ms Kavanagh opposed the application.

Today, Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan said she was satisfied Rihanna had discharged the burden of proof in relation to her claim that service of the documents was not valid as a matter of New York or US federal law.

However, the judge found there were "just grounds" to declare the service of court documents on Rihanna was effected in accordance with the rules of the superior courts here.

The decision means the case can now proceed to hearing.

Pop star Rihanna. Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Pop star Rihanna. Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

In her action, Ms Kavanagh claims she was caused mental distress and emotional suffering as a result of what she says was a false and malicious email sent on July 11, 2013, about her (Kavanagh's) husband Geoffrey Keating who was Rihanna's head of security in 2012 and 2013.

She is also suing over a phone call the singer allegedly made to Ms Kavanagh's sister-in-law in relation to the same matter.

She claims that as a result of the allegations a business she built up with Mr Keating, called Geoff Keating Media, had been destroyed.

Rihanna denies the claims.

Rihanna's Irish lawyers challenged the legality of the way court papers were served on her because they claimed  it was not done in accordance with international, US federal or New York State law.

Ms Kavangh's side claimed the singer was seeking to obstruct the bringing of proceedings against her in Ireland.  Rihanna had not challenged the jurisdiction of Ireland as the place for the hearing of the case and had not sworn an affidavit explaining whether he had received the papers in the case or not, it was also claimed.

In her judgment, Ms Justice O'Regan said while Rihanna's side had discharged the burden of proof to say service of the documents was not in accordance with New York and federal law, the rules of our superior courts gave the High Court discretion to declare service sufficient.

This applies whether or not the defendant is an Irish citizen.

There was sworn evidence before her that Rihanna's manager, Sarah Francus, who as part of her role opens and reviews mail or deliveries at the singer's home address, received a set of papers which were delivered by hand to the apartment concierge in October 2016.

The judge said Ms Francus also did not deny receipt of the documents on the first occasion (November 2015).  The judge accepted that service on the defendant or on someone else living in her apartment was not as a matte of practicality available to the Kavanagh side.

Rihanna had also challenged the Kavanagh claim that it also posted the documents but did not challenge the evidence of attending the apartment to serve them on a number of occasions.

In all the circumstances, she was satisfied to declare the service actually effect was sufficient.

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