Judge rules friends' €60k taxi prang claim amounts to fraud
Three uninjured drinking pals sat waiting for firemen to cut them out of a taxi prang in a plot to claim €60,000 in damages, a judge said.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke ruled that Dean Masterson, Stephen Deane and Shane O'Leary wildly exaggerated their injuries when the cab was shunted and could have got out unaided.
They claimed they were seri- ously hurt when an untraced vehicle ran into the back of Brendan Spearing's taxi being driven by Oluramti Awogboro in East Road, Dublin, in January 2013.
Only Masterson and Deane went through with their claims.
Judge Groarke said Masterson (32), himself a taxi driver, of Dorset Street Flats, Dublin, had told the court he was "so overwhelmed" by the collision he could not extricate himself.
Deane (35), a painter, of Saint Mary's Place, Dorset Street, claimed he too could not get out because he was "in panic".
Judge Groarke said Mr O'Leary, "a sensible man who did not pursue his claim", had been "so overcome" that he also froze.
The judge told barristers Helen McCarthy, for the taxi owner and driver, and Philip Fennel, for the Motor Insurance Bureau, it was obvious from pictures that there was no damage to the rear-ended taxi.
"The evidence from each of these two plaintiffs was of a rapidly reached agreement by all three passengers before gardai and firemen arrived that they would concoct serious injuries which left them incapable of getting out of the car," Judge Groarke said.
"This is as bad a story as I have ever heard concocted and really amounts to deceit and fraud.
"There is no question of these three men having been so badly injured that they were physically incapable. I don't believe it for one minute.
"To say they were exaggerating their evidence does not do the situation sufficient justice.
"They had suffered no injuries whatsoever and I dismiss their claims accordingly."
Judge Groarke told Ms McCarthy and Mr Fennel that their clients were entitled to recover costs.