Insurance broker takes €17.6m action against solicitors

THE High Court is hearing a €17.6 million damages for negligence claim by an insurance brokerage against eight solicitors in the firm of Coakley Moloney Solicitors, South Mall, Cork.

The claims, which are denied arise from the termination by Hibernian Life Ltd of the insurance brokerage’s alleged contract with Hibernian Life and the alleged improper manner in which the solicitors dealt with this earlier litigation on behalf of the brokerage.

Emerald Isle Assurances and Investments Ltd and its two directors, who each hold a 50% shareholding of the company, have taken the proceedings, which are expected to continue into next week. The directors are Timothy Maverley, Clifton Grange, Douglas, Cork and and James Morey of Lindisfrarne, Seafield, Youghal, Co Cork.

The defendants are: Patrick Dorgan, Sylvester Duane, Eugene Glendon, Julian Kahn, Shane Moloney, Eileen Nagle, Kevin O’Keeffe and Nicholas O’Keeffe.

The plaintiffs claim that in July 1994, Hibernian Life placed their relationship under deliberate strain culminating in the alleged unilateral and unlawful termination of their contract in December, resulting in the ruination of Emerald’s business and the loss of 80 jobs.

On October 4, 1994, Emerald sought advice from the defendants. They were advised by Coakley Moloney to seek damages and the vindication of their good name in court.

Emerald claims the proceedings were not prosecuted properly or with expedition by the solicitors involved and there was a first motion to dismiss Emerald’s case for want of prosecution. They also claim they were kept ignorant concerning the circumstances concerning this motion.

According to court documents, in July 2010 Emerald was advised by senior counsel there was no meaningful prospect of defeating a second motion to dismiss and therefore required to be settled. Emerald say the action was settled for €300,000 including costs, and claim it was a fraction of its value.

The defendants deny Emerald enjoyed a successful contract with Hibernian. They say terms were never finalised.

The defendants deny they were advised by the plaintiffs to seek the vindication of their name through High Court proceedings. They admit Emerald but not the two named directors were advised it had a bona fide stateable cause against Hibernian for substantial damages but was advised of the difficulties with the action and he nature and size of the claim.

The hearing continues.

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