Judge rejects Sean Dunne claim that he is too poor to pay $9,330 fine
Judge says hiring of new lawyer undermines claim former developer is indigent
Judge freezes any decision on a request by Sean Dunne’s solicitor for a new trial until he hands over $9,330 in court sanction. Photograph: Douglas Healey
The judge in onetime property magnate Sean Dunne’s US bankruptcy case has rejected his claim that he is too poor to pay a court sanction of almost $10,000. He froze any decision on a request by Mr Dunne’s solicitor for a new trial until he hands over the money.
Mr Dunne’s recent hiring of a New York city lawyer to file the new trial request was a significant factor in US judge Jeffrey Meyer’s conclusion that the former developer can afford to pay the sanction.
“Especially in light of his retention of new counsel, the court is not persuaded by Dunne’s contention that he lacks the resources to satisfy the modest amount of attorney’s fees [$9,330] resulting from the sanctions order,” Judge Meyer wrote in his ruling.
Judge Meyer issued the decision in a response to a request from the plaintiff that the court require Mr Dunne to pay the sanction before ruling on his motion for a new trial. If the sanction is still unpaid by January 1st, the plaintiff may ask the court to dismiss the new trial motion for that reason, Judge Meyer wrote.
In June, a US jury concluded that Mr Dunne fraudulently transferred millions of euro of assets to his now ex-wife Gayle Killilea to shield them from creditors and ordered her to surrender €18.1 million to the bankruptcy estate.
Mr Dunne’s new lawyer, Luke McGrath, last month asked for a new trial or a reduction in award, arguing that the verdict was inconsistent with the facts.
Last spring, Mr Dunne agreed to pay the plaintiff’s lawyers $9,330 in sanctions for failing to preserve, and in some cases provide, emails connected to the case. In October, Mr Dunne, one of Ireland’s richest men in 2000s, said in a court document that he earned only €200 a month and was unable to pay the sanction.
“As I am now bankrupt, I have great difficulty in obtaining work,” the one-time property tycoon said in a sworn affidavit. “Currently, I have no significant current or future income available to me, except for my current income from Amrakbo, the company I am currently employed with.”
Judge Meyer also ruled he will postpone consideration of Mr Dunne’s new trial request until he has acted on the trustee’s post-judgment remedy requests and until the conclusion of settlement negotiations, whichever is the later.
He denied another part of the plaintiff’s request and allowed Mr Dunne’s attorney to file more documents while the sanction remains unpaid, but warned he is unlikely to act on those filings as long as the sanction remains unpaid.
“Although the court will not bar Dunne from making any further filings, the court is unlikely to adjudicate any requests for relief by Dunne until he has complied with the court’s spoliation sanctions order,” Judge Meyer wrote.
Attorneys for the bankruptcy trustee and Mr Dunne were not immediately available for comment.