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Thursday 22 November 2018

Rihanna fails in fight to halt Irish court case over malicious email claims

Rihanna has been accused of ‘malicious falsehoods’
Rihanna has been accused of ‘malicious falsehoods’

Singer Rihanna has failed to halt High Court proceedings brought against her by an Irish woman over alleged "malicious falsehoods" in an email and a phone call.

Dana Kavanagh (43), of Woodbank Drive, Finglas, is suing Rihanna under the name Robyn Fenty aka Rihanna, with her address given as Lafayette Street, New York.

Rihanna asked the court to set aside service of Ms Kavanagh's proceedings on her at her New York home, claiming it was not done in accordance with the law. Ms Kavanagh opposed the application.

Proof

Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan said yesterday that she was satisfied Rihanna had discharged the burden of proof in relation to her claim that service of the documents was not valid as a matter of New York or US federal law.

However, she found there were "just grounds" to declare the service of court documents on Rihanna was effected in accordance with the rules of the superior courts here.

The decision means the case can now proceed to hearing.

In her action, Ms Kavanagh claims she was caused mental distress and emotional suffering as a result of what she says was a false and malicious email sent on July 11, 2013, about her husband Geoffrey Keating who was Rihanna's head of security in 2012 and 2013.

Geoffrey Keating and Rihanna
Geoffrey Keating and Rihanna

She is also suing over a phone call the singer allegedly made to Ms Kavanagh's sister-in-law in relation to the same matter.

She claims that as a result of the allegations a business she built up with Mr Keating, called Geoff Keating Media, was destroyed.

Rihanna denies the claims.

The singer's Irish lawyers challenged the legality of the way court papers were served on her, claiming it was not done in accordance with international, US federal or New York State law.

Ms Kavanagh's side claimed Rihanna was seeking to obstruct the bringing of proceedings against her in Ireland.

Rihanna had not challenged the jurisdiction of Ireland as the place for the hearing of the case and had not sworn an affidavit explaining whether she had received the papers in the case or not, it was also claimed.

In her judgment, Ms Justice O'Regan said that while Rihanna's side had discharged the burden of proof to say service of the documents was not in accordance with New York and federal law, the rules of our superior courts gave the High Court discretion to declare service sufficient.

This applies whether or not the defendant is an Irish citizen.

There was sworn evidence before the judge that Rihanna's manager, Sarah Francus, who as part of her role opens and reviews mail or deliveries at the singer's home address, received a set of papers that were delivered by hand to the concierge in October 2016.

Deny

The judge said Ms Francus also did not deny receipt of the documents on the first occasion, in November 2015.

Ms Justice O'Regan accepted that service on the defendant or on someone else living in her apartment was not as a matter of practicality available to the Kavanagh side.

Rihanna had also challenged the Kavanagh side's claim that it also posted the documents but did not challenge the evidence of attending the apartment to serve them.

In all the circumstances, the judge said she was satisfied to declare the service's actual effect was sufficient.

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