Woman sues for­mer friends over dis­puted ¤280,000

The Irish Times - - Home News - MARY CAROLAN

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.

Coun­selling busi­ness

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.

Mem­ory prob­lems

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.

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