Four men who have received tens of thousands in compensation payouts over the past 20 years have been accused of putting together a "grand scheme" to falsely pocket compensation from an insurance company.
Dismissing each of their claims for up to €60,000 in Tullamore Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Karen Fergus said all four men had "grossly exaggerated" their claims and had knowingly misled the court about a single car collision in Granard, Co Longford, in 2015.
Judge Fergus said she would have expected the men to know what is required of them when they speak to solicitors and doctors, given the number of compensation claims they had previously been involved in.
They confirmed under cross examination that none of their previous compensation claims had come before a court.
The judge said all four men, who were passengers in the single car collision, seemed to be "most unfortunate" given the number of accidents and incidents that had befallen them in recent years.
The court heard evidence that the four men had received tens of thousands of euros between them in out-of-court settlements for earlier road traffic accidents and matters such as the purchase of a bad tin of beans.
Brothers Brendan Leddy and James Leddy, of Granard, Co Longford, as well as cousins Edward Stokes and Michael Stokes Jnr, of Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, had been passengers in a Ford Focus car driven by Brendan Leddy's wife, Emma O'Keeffe, when it hit a stone wall or ditch in Granard on Sunday, January 25, 2015.
Garda Justin Browne attended the scene and noted all four passengers were out of the car when he arrived and none reported any injury.
He noted the car seemed to have hit part of a ditch and that damage to the car was "minimal".
All four men brought personal injury claims for up to €60,000 each against Ms O'Keeffe's insurance company, which was fully defended.
They claimed they had gone to chop wood on the day in question and they gave varying accounts of how the accident happened. At one stage, Edward Stokes had claimed the car had overturned.
At the end of the case, counsel for the defence, Keith O'Grady BL, applied to have each of their claims dismissed as false and misleading under the Civil Liability Act 2004.
Judge Fergus said she did not believe the accident happened in the manner as alleged or that the men sustained the level of injuries they claimed.
"Despite their description of the impact when the car hit a wall, not one of them had a scratch, cut, bruise or broken bone," she said.
Judge Fergus said she had a duty to look at all the evidence presented to a court and to ensure that no injustice could be done to a worthy claim.
Having done so, she said she was "entirely satisfied" this was a "grand scheme put together" by the four men with the aim of "pocketing compensation" from an insurance company.
"All of their complaints were typical of injuries alleged in these types of cases which are almost impossible for doctors to discount."
She dismissed their claims, awarded legal costs against them, and refused to put a stay on the award of costs.
The court heard Edward Stokes was involved in a road traffic accident in May 2010 and thinks he got €9k for this.
In September 2010, he was stabbed at a wedding and got €5,500 compensation.
In February 2010, he sued a supermarket for food poisoning over what was described as a bad tin of beans and got €2,000.
In August 2012, he sued another supermarket for another bad tin of beans and got €2,000.
In May 2013, he was held up in a bookies at gunpoint and got €5,000 compensation.
In October 2016, a lady drove out in front of him in Dublin and the insurance company settled for €28,500.
The court heard Mr Stokes was shot in the ankle in 2018.
In June 2020, Mr Stokes was involved in a hit and run car crash but took no claim.