Axa offer fails in home repair case

Proceedings taken over water damage to home on St John's Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Proceedings taken over water damage to home on St John's Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times


An expected €800,000 settlement of proceedings by a widowed mother of two against insurance giant AXA over water damage to her mid-Victorian home in Sandymount failed today over what her lawyers described as "minimal" differences.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he had understood the settlement would be agreed today on terms outlined by AXA yesterday and he considered what was now going on was "nonsense". AXA's proposed settlement was "very reasonable, if not generous", he added.

Michael Forde SC, for Ann Marie Glennon Cully, indicated the settlement provided for reinstatement works to her home over the coming months but issues had arisen concerning insurance of the premises.

Paul Fogarty SC, for AXA, said what was now being sought by Ms Glennon Cully did not reflect what AXA had proposed.

The court heard yesterday Ms Glennon Cully was prepared, subject to consent of her son Zane, to accept a settlement involving payment of some €645,000 for reinstatement works. That follows payments by AXA of some €159,000 to cover costs including for the family's alternative accommodation in the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin.

Today, Dr Forde said the issue that had arisen did not relate to Zane's consent.

After hearing both sides, the judge said the matter was clearly not settled and will proceed to hearing next week.

Ms Glennon Cully, her daughter Zara and son Zane, had sued alleging delays by AXA in carrying out reinstatement works to the family's home at Victoria House, St John's Road, Sandymount after they made a claim in January 2010 over damage to their home resulting from escaped water in autumn 2009. They left the house in October 2011 after another escaped water incident and have since lived in the Four Seasons, saying it was the only nearby hotel that would take their pets - four dogs and a parrot.

In seeking orders this week requiring AXA to pay some €120,000 now, pending further proceedings, Ms Glennon Cully said she was in arrears of rent, owed other sums and had no savings.

AXA disputed any suggestions she was near destitute and said she had a house in Brittas Bay and her children had a €1.4m trust fund. It previously decided to make "a generous cash offer" so Ms Glennon Cully could herself organise the resinstatement of her home as it considered her "impossible" to deal with, it said.

She disputed those and other claims and alleged AXA had engaged in "below the belt muck-raking".

Zara Glennon Cully said they had endured "severe hardship" due to the escaped water incidents. They had no heating over the freezing winter of 2010, went to bed with their hats and coats on, had to monitor a water pump at two hour intervals and could not use water saturated ground floor rooms, she said.

They claim it will take some six months from now to complete reinstatement works. They moved into a one bed apartment and double bedroom in the Four Seasons in October 2011. Since December 2011, all three are in the one-bedroom apartment. While Ms Glennon Cully complained that was "cramped", AXA said they insisted in living in "a very expensive one bedroom luxury apartment" when they could have "a much more suitable and considerably less expensive house".

AXA had paid €7,500 a month for alternative accommodation but reduced that to €5,000 per month from March 2012. It said Ms Glennon Cully offered no explanation for continuing to seek €7,500 a month when, it said, the actual cost of the rent was €2,800 a month.

AXA claimed Ms Glennon Cully seemed to want AXA to be responsible for the full reinstatement of the house and repair of furniture and, if those costs exceeded AXA's liability, they would repay the difference. The offer to repay any difference had to be seen in the context of claims Ms Glennon Cully has no money at all, it said.

In reply, she said it was unclear exactly what AXA was offering and its position concerning arbitration was also unclear.

AXA also said it has concerns Ms Glennon Cully is apparently not registered as owner of Victoria House. The last recorded entry in the registry of deeds was an assignment in favour of the late Maurice Cully, it said. While Ms Glennon Cully had asserted she was married to Mr Cully, with whom she had the two children, that was not clear and the couple became estranged in 1994, it said. She said such issues were not relevant but she would address them if required.