Four men accused of ‘grand scheme’ to falsely pocket compensation
Updated / Thursday, 3 Dec 2020 23:00
Four men who have received tens of thousands of euro 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 personal injuries in Tullamore Circuit Court today, 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 euro 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 on a quiet country lane in Granard, Co Longford, on Sunday, 25 January, 2015.
Garda Justin Browne attended the scene and noted that all four passengers were out of the car when he arrived and none reported any injury. He noted that 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 some wood on the Sunday in question and gave varying accounts of how the accident happened. At one stage, Edward Stokes 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”.
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 in this case, she said she was “entirely satisfied” that 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.”
Judge Fergus added that the men had “attempted to circumvent” the system by instructing different solicitors in different parts of the country.
While anyone was entitled to instruct whatever solicitor they wish, Judge Fergus said she did not accept that there was no connection between the selection of different solicitors and the lack of disclosure to the doctors involved.
She dismissed their claims, awarded legal costs against them and refused to put a stay on the award of costs.
The court heard evidence that Brendan Leddy was involved in a road traffic accident in 2007 in which he injured his neck and back, and which was settled outside court for €15,000. The defendant in that case, as in this case, was his wife, Emma O’Keeffe.
In 2009, he had another road traffic accident in which he injured his back and neck, and which was settled for €10k.
He was assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) for another incident in October 2014 – three months before the present incident – when he was the passenger in a car which was being driven by his mother, and which was settled for €15,500.
Mr Leddy denied running parallel claims or attempting to mislead the doctors or the court.
James Leddy told the court that he was involved in another road traffic accident in April 2015, for which he thought he had received some €9,000.
Edward Stokes was involved in a road traffic accident in May 2010, in which he sustained soft tissue injuries to his back, 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 through his solicitor in Longford 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 again, 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 that 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 and says he was not injured.
Michael Stokes Jnr was involved in a road traffic accident in 2005 in which he injured his shoulder, neck and back and received €40k compensation.
Under cross examination, it emerged he had also been in an accident in 2001 for which he received €10,000.
In 2011, he injured his left knee in a road traffic accident and received €17,600.
He was held at gunpoint in a bookies in 2013, was treated for anxiety, and received €5k.
In 2016, he fell into a pothole and sued the county council but the case is ongoing.
Another road traffic accident from August 2017 is ongoing.
Edward Stokes is currently charged with commanding a German Shepherd type dog, that he was in control of, to attack Sergeant Tom Quinn, at his home on December 3, 2018.