Former K Club manager faces six-figure costs after losing action

Estimates suggest Peter Curran could be facing bill of more than €500,000

Peter Curran had taken the action against Dr Michael Smurfit, the K Club and one of its employees. Photograph: Collins

Peter Curran had taken the action against Dr Michael Smurfit, the K Club and one of its employees. Photograph: Collins

 

The former manager at the K Club who lost his High Court action against Dr Michael Smurfit, the K Club and one of its employees was on Friday ordered by the High Court to pay all the legal costs of the case.

Peter Curran faces a huge bill, which sources estimate at more than €500,000, for the 28-day action. The legal teams on the Smurfit and K Club sides included four senior counsel as well as junior counsel and solicitors.

The court was told Mr Curran (51) from Cahirciveen, Co Kerry, is “impecunious” and has continuing mental difficulties.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr said the court “must effectively be blind” as to whether the parties are wealthy or poor and he was not satisfied Mr Curran’s difficulties were such as to affect his capacity to decide on litigation.

After hearing submissions from the Curran side that the rule where costs follow the event should not apply in this case, the judge ruled there was “no basis in law, justice or logic” to do that.

Last week Mr Justice Barr dismissed the case against all the defendants and ruled Mr Curran had not, despite his claims to the contrary, been threatened at Punchestown Races seven years ago. The judge also found Mr Curran had sent five bogus emails in a desperate attempt to entice K Club superintendent Gerry Byrne – whom he alleged made a threat to him at the races in 2011 – into making an “inculpatory statement” which would also incriminate the luxury resort owner, Mr Smurfit. This, the judge said, would have ended the litigation and resulted in a “windfall of damages” to Mr Curran.

‘Lied continually’

The judge was satisfied Mr Curran sent the emails to Mr Byrne and found Mr Curran had “lied continually” in relation to what he told various parties and in his evidence to the court on the matter.

Mr Curran had sued his former employer the K Club Ltd, Straffan, Co Kildare. Dr Michael Smurfit and Mr Byrne. Mr Curran had claimed that on May 7th, 2011, his way was blocked in the toilets at Punchestown Races and Mr Byrne allegedly said: “Dr Smurfit has not forgotten the statements about him and the call girls. Dr Smurfit knows where to find you and this is not over.”

All three defendants denied the claims.

Personal injury action

In court on Friday, Bernard McDonagh SC, for Mr Byrne, applied for his costs as did counsel for the K Club and Dr Smurfit. Mr Justice Barr said Mr Curran has no assets other than a personal injury action pending before the courts relating to when he stepped on a cover over a water junction in 2015 and claims he suffered a bone fracture. Even if Mr Curran received damages, there was a lean on those in relation to the fees of expert witnesses called by his side in the K Club case. The court “must effectively be blind” whether the parties are wealthy or poor and could not draw inferences because one person may be wealthy and the other impecunious.

Mental difficulties

The judge said it was also submitted Mr Curran did not have the mental capacity as ordinary litigants would normally have. He accepted Mr Curran has had significant mental difficulties from about 1999 and which continued to the present time. Having regard to the medical evidence, he was not convinced these were of such a nature or degree it could be said his capacity to make decision in relation to litigation was so adversely affected he should be absolved from the consequences of the findings made. He also rejected complaints by the Curran side that Dr Smurfit had not been called to give evidence, noting subpoena had issued, that matter was adjourned because Dr Smurfit was unwell and the Curran side later decided not to pursue it.