Woman sues former friends over disputed ¤280,000
A woman has sued a couple who were formerly her close friends, claiming a sum of ¤280,000 she gave them was a loan and not a gift as they maintain.
The ¤280,000 was part of ¤750,000 compensation secured by Fidelma Kerrigan in 2010 over serious personal injuries she suffered in a road incident in 2002 in which her father died, the High Court heard.
It is claimed Ms Kerrigan, as a result of her father’s death and injuries, was deeply depressed when, two weeks after getting the compensation cheque in August 2010, she handed over the ¤280,000 to John and Jacqueline Keenaghan.
It is claimed she did that to help them set up a counselling business or until Mr Keenaghan, an architect, had completed projects.
It is alleged Ms Keenaghan was crying and saying she feared losing their home and being unable to feed her children.
The couple have had their business set up since 2012 but have not repaid the money and Ms Kerrigan is now on social welfare payments, the court was told.
The case opened this week before Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy who, when adjourning it yesterday to November 20th, said it was “never too late” to consider an agreed rather than imposed outcome.
In her action, Ms Kerrigan, (59), a single woman of Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, represented by Patrick Kean SC, claims it was agreed and understood at all times the money was a short-term loan and could be called in, allowing a reasonable period for the defendants to set up their new business.
It is claimed Ms Kerrigan sought repayment in 2014 but the money remains unpaid.
The defendants, of Rathmore, Ballyshannon, deny the claims, say the money was a gift with the effect they have not failed to repay it and deny they exercised undue influence over Ms Kerrigan.
In cross-examination by Desmond Murphy SC, for the defendants, Celine Kerrigan, sister of Ms Kerrigan, denied she had supported the view the money was a gift.
She agreed she had considered Ms Keenaghan a good friend and had loved her. “Some friends,” she added.
In evidence, a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Mary Maguire, said Ms Kerrigan had said Ms Keenaghan kept asking her about her personal injury claim during the years she was waiting for it .
She said Ms Kerrigan had said she had memory problems immediately after the road incident and, at the time she gave the money, was on medication.
Ms Kerrigan had said: “I was not right, I did not want to live, I felt guilty even though I did not cause the accident.
“Daddy was dead, I was driving him.”
Ms Kerrigan also said she was hurt when she was made aware that Ms Keenaghan had gone on holidays to the US and hired a limousine for her daughter’s debs.