Monday 18 June 2018

Taxi driver ordered to pay 'the wrong man' €18k after traffic collision

Michael Finlay, of Corkage View, Clondalkin, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts Photo: Collins Courts
Michael Finlay, of Corkage View, Clondalkin, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts Photo: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A FORMER taxi driver on Friday told a judge the man who was suing him for €60,000 damages because of a traffic collision was not the man involved in the accident.

Judge Terence O’Sullivan nevertheless told Michael Finlay, of Corkage View, Clondalkin, Dublin, to pay “the wrong man” just under €18,000 for personal injuries and indicated he was only marginally dissuaded from awarding punitive damages against the taximan.

Barrister Barry Browne, counsel for the injured Marius Vrancean, told the Circuit Civil Court that when his client, a builder, turned up last week to prosecute his claim he had been told Mr Finlay did not recognize him as the driver he had spoken with at the scene.

Mr Browne, who appeared with Bismilla Solicitors, said the case had been adjourned to allow Mr Finlay, backed by his insurers AXA, change his defence to deny that Vrancean was the driver involved in the accident at all. He said his client was being openly accused of lying.

Vrancean, 42, told Judge O’Sullivan that Finlay’s cab had collided with the back of his car on the Navan Road on 5th May, 2015, causing him injuries to his shoulder and back and aggravating a replacement hip.

He had exchanged details and mobile phone numbers with Finlay and later attended for treatment at Blanchardstown Hospital.

Finlay in evidence said Vrancean was not the other driver he had dealt with.  This man had been more than six feet tall, was slim and had bushy black dishevelled hair, nothing like Mr Vrancean.

Forensic engineer Pat Culleton said the damage to both cars was not consistent with Mr Vrancean’s vehicle simply rolling back into the taxi as suggested by Mr Finlay. There had been a collision, albeit a minor one.

Judge O’Sullivan said he had been strongly influenced by Mr Culleton in accepting Mr Vrancean’s account of what had happened.  He said Mr Culleton was an expert witness who did not attempt to act as an advocate for anyone and did not push the boat out, telling it as he saw it “warts and all.”

The judge said he had paid particular attention to the demeanour of Mr Vrancean in the witness box when it was being suggested he was lying and that he was not involved in the accident at all.  He had struck him as a reliable and honest witness and he had been able to quote Mr Finlay’s mobile number as given to him at the scene.

Judge O’Sullivan said he had been asked to award aggravated damages to Mr Vrancean on the basis of his being “accused of being a liar or inventing the story” but he felt more inclined to the view that Mr Finlay’s memory, with the passage of time, had just proved to be faulty.

He awarded Mr Vrancean €17,826 and his legal costs against Mr Finlay.

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