Fiona Dunne said in the Circuit Civil Court she was absolutely certain there was nobody in the car after the driver, Robert McCurdy, had stepped out to speak with her about the accident she admitted she had caused.
Judge Patrick Quinn, dismissing three €60,000 damages claims against Ms Dunne and AIG Insurance, said Mr McCurdy’s former partner, Monica Caulfield, had failed to prove she and her two children were in the car.
He dismissed the damages claims of Ms Caulfield and her two small children, Robin and Bobbie McCurdy, both under two at the time, on the basis Ms Caulfield had failed to convince the court she and her children were in the car.
Ms Caulfield, aged 41, of Cruagh Close, Stepaside, Dublin, told Judge Quinn she had been driving the car when Ms Dunne collided with her. Her partner, Mr McCurdy, had been in the passenger seat and their two children were secured in the back seats.
Barrister Eamon Marray, who appeared with Nessa McGerty of Pembroke Solicitors, told the court Ms Dunne denied that Ms Caulfield and the children were in the car at the time and the sole occupant was Mr McCurdy, who had been driving.
Mr Marray said the car had been registered in Ms Caulfield’s name and she was the only one insured by AIG to drive it.
Ms Dunne said her car had collided with the vehicle driven by Mr McCurdy near Stepaside on the Enniskerry Road, Dublin, on May 18, 2014, and she had told Mr McCurdy she was sorry and it was her fault. She had given him her details before both departed the scene.
“He was a bit edgy and hyper and wanted to get away from the scene, giving me his mobile number,” said Ms Dunne.
“We were only there for about five minutes.”
Ms Dunne said alarm bells began to sound when she later received a text from Ms Caulfield thanking her for inquiring as to the health of her two children. She immediately went to the gardaí and reported details of the collision.
“There was absolutely no-one in the car. I’m 100% certain of that,” she told Judge Quinn.
The judge said Ms Dunne had admitted liability and the court had been told by Ms Caulfield and her former partner, Mr McCurdy, that they were all in the car.
“I have to make a call in relation to the two stories I have heard and I find it is difficult to do,” Judge Quinn said. “Ms Caulfield bears the onus of proof to establish her case and it seems to me that this onus has not been discharged.”
Dismissing Ms Caulfield’s €60,000 damages claim, and the two €60,000 claims she brought on behalf of her children, Judge Quinn said was swayed by Ms Dunne’s decision to go to the gardaí and put herself in a position where she could have been prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving.
Costs in her own case were awarded against Ms Caulfield. Mr Marray told the court Mr McCurdy, who claimed to have been a passenger at the time, had not brought any claim against Ms Dunne or AIG Insurance.