User Menu

Court rules Gayle Killilea must set aside assets to pay $18.1m judgment

Decision follows 2019 verdict Seán Dunne fraudulently transferred assets to ex-wife

Gayle Killilea, ex-wife of developer Seán Dunne. Photograph: Douglas Healey/ The Irish Times

A federal magistrate ruled on Thursday that the trustee in property developer Seán Dunne’s long-running American bankruptcy can require Mr Dunne’s ex-wife Gayle Killilea to set aside sufficient assets to pay an $18.1 million US jury verdict reached in 2019.

The decision by US magistrate Judge William Garfinkel allows the trustee to attach Ms Killilea’s assets in the US, including a luxury home in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of America’s wealthiest communities, as well as overseas to pay the verdict. Under the ruling, Ms Killilea must bring sufficient assets into the US to pay the judgment or post a cash bond for the total, according to trustee attorney Thomas Curran.

It also compels Ms Killilea to disclose all her assets worldwide and prohibits her from transferring, dissipating or disposing any assets set aside to pay the verdict. Ms Killilea has 14 days to comply.

Mr Curran said on Thursday he was pleased by the ruling.

“Obviously, we’re gratified that the court saw it our way and determined that we need to be protected for the full amount of the verdict while we move to judgment,” he said. “We don’t want to get to judgment and have her claim that point that the money’s all gone.”

Ms Killilea’s attorney, Peter Nolin, said he disagreed with the ruling and would file an objection with US district judge Jeffrey Meyer, who is overseeing the case and presided at the trial.

Collateral

He said the ruling makes no sense because the trustee already has liens – a claim against assets used as collateral – on Ms Killilea’s American properties totalling more than $4 million, while other overseas assets are similarly encumbered. He also questioned whether the court can enable attachment of assets outside the US.

“We disagree with much of the ruling,” Mr Nolin said. “Well be seeking an appropriate review thereof.”

Judge Garfinkel’s decision comes 18 months after a weeks-long trial in federal court in Connecticut in which jurors concluded that Mr Dunne had fraudulently transferred millions of euros of assets, including Walford, Ireland’s most expensive home, to Ms Killilea in a scheme to dodge creditors and ordered her to surrender $18.1 million to the trustee.

The two sides have battled in court and on-again, off-again settlement talks ever since, with Mr Dunne intervening at several points in what both Ms Killilea’s lawyer and the trustee have characterised as an attempt to derail a deal.

Mr Nolin indicated late last year that he believed the two sides had a tentative agreement, but said on Thursday that is no longer the case. He held out hope an agreement could still happen.

“My personal view is that this should be settled,” he said. “Hopefully at some point, people will go in that direction.”

Mr Curran declined to comment on settlement talks. “The only thing I’ll say is there is no settlement now,” he said.

Is it time to make
your next career move?