Family put up in Four Seasons is offered €800,000 to repair home
Ann Marie Glennon Cully's Sandymount home. Photographs: Brenda Fitzsimons; Collins/Courts
A widowed mother of two who sued after her Sandymount home was damaged by water has been offered some €800,000 towards repairs and her chosen alternative accommodation in an apartment in Dublin’s five-star Four Seasons Hotel.
Ann Marie Glennon Cully indicated yesterday she was prepared to accept a €645,000 offer from Axa Insurance Ltd, following earlier payments totalling €159,000, in settlement of injunction proceedings in her action against the insurer.
She and her children Zane and Zara had sued Axa alleging unacceptable delays by it in having their home – Victoria House, St John’s Road, Sandymount – reinstated so they could return to live in it.
In October 2011, the family moved into a one-bedroom apartment, plus a standard double room, at the Four Seasons. Since December 2011, they have been living in the one-bedroom apartment which her mother had described as “cramped”.
Ms Glennon Cully said that while there were other houses similar to her home on Dublin’s Ailesbury, Shrewsbury and Simmonscourt roads at rents between €7,000-€10,000 a month, they were not available.
They moved into the Four Seasons because it was near their home and the only nearby hotel that would take the children’s pets, four dogs and a parrot.
The judge, who said Axa appeared to have behaved “reasonably”, adjourned the matter for mention today to allow consultation with the son Zane on the offer.
Axa had previously agreed to pay €514,000 for a first phase of repair works but disputed a claim for €256,000 for a second phase.
While it paid €7,500 a month for the family’s Four Seasons accommodation from October 2011, it argued against continuing to pay that amount after March 2012, instead offering €5,000 a month until repairs were complete.
The case was before Mr Justice Peter Kelly via an application by the family for orders, pending a full hearing, requiring Axa pay them sums of €75,000, plus €9,000 due to the Four Seasons and €7,500 a month for their accommodation for the next six months.
They also sought orders requiring Axa engage in bona fide talks with them to ensure their home be speedily repaired.
Michael Forde SC said the matter was urgent for reasons including that Victoria House was now uninsured.
The house was damaged due to escaped water in late 2009 and, after further such damage in autumn 2011, the family claimed it was uninhabitable.
After late 2009, Zara Cully said she, her mother and brother were on constant duty, night and day, monitoring a water pump in their garden to ensure no further damage and they suffered severe hardship, especially in winter 2010.
Water saturated the ground-floor rooms, there was no heating downstairs and they often had no running water due to frozen pipes. In September 2011, escaped water again flooded the house and they had to leave, she said.
Axa argued she herself chose the “very expensive” Four Seasons and was intent on staying there “at all costs”.
It claimed she “set her face” against other substantial family residences and refused to even view a four-bedroom house on St John’s Road for rent at €1,900 monthly.
Ms Glennon Cully said that house was not “similar” to hers as it was “in St John’s Wood, a housing estate”, semi-detached and one third of the size of her home “with only a tiny garden and not gated”.
In the action, Ms Glennon Cully said she discovered significant flooding under the floorboards when the heating system’s pipework was being replaced in October 2009.
That flooding inflicted extensive damage and a claim was notified to Axa in January 2010.
Three years later, only emergency damage-limitation work had been carried out and actual reinstatement works had not started, she alleged. She had builders who were ready to start last March but could not until Axa gave the go-ahead, she claimed.