herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Designer claimed €75k to repair wall she didn't own

Francesca De Cataldo’s claims were dismissed by the court Picture: Collins
Francesca De Cataldo’s claims were dismissed by the court Picture: Collins

An Italian designer who claimed €75,000 for repairs to a wall turned out to be "merely a tenant" and not the owner of the property she alleged had been damaged by tree roots, a judge said.

Francesca De Cataldo gave the Circuit Civil Court an undertaking last March not to cut down trees believed to have been planted on Killiney Hill, Co Dublin, to mark a visit to Ireland by Queen Victoria more than a century ago.

Ms De Cataldo was in court yesterday to see her claims against Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Abberley Management Company Ltd thrown out by Judge Jacqueline Linnane.

Francis Daly, for Dun Laoghaire-based Abberley Management, had asked the court to dismiss De Cataldo's claims on the basis they were vexatious, frivolous, without merit and an abuse of process.

Liam O'Connell, for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, said her legal team had conceded that the local authority had no case to meet.

Judge Linnane said De Cataldo, of Duncan, Killiney Hill Road, Killiney, had initially failed to inform the court that she was not the owner of the property.

She had sought to recover damages of more than €80,000 which had later been reduced to around €40,000 for damage allegedly caused to a wall on the property by the roots of trees along a laneway.

She had asked the court for an injunction seeking damages and directing the felling of the trees, but she had failed and costs were directed against her.

The court had previously heard that De Cataldo had expressly pleaded that the property belonged to her and that she and her family resided there. It had since been proved that she did not own the dwelling or the perimeter wall.

De Cataldo told the court she had lived in "Duncan" since 2005 and managed the property on behalf of her landlady.

She said she claimed for repair of the boundary wall as she intended to have it repaired on her landlady's behalf.

Prejudice

She has now withdrawn that claim without prejudice to her landlady's entitlement to bring a claim.

Judge Linnane dismissed both of De Cataldo's claims, both with costs. The judge said the court had been "quite taken aback by Ms De Cataldo's mode of operating".

The court refused to grant Abberley an order restraining her from instituting further proceedings against the company without prior approval of the court.

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