Lotto winner loses legal battle over Titanic bar plan

Court heard man borrowed extensively in bid to complete the project in Cobh, Co Cork

The Supreme Court  dismissed an appeal by Vincent Keaney, from Cobh, who won a seven-figure sum in an early 1990s Lotto draw

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Vincent Keaney, from Cobh, who won a seven-figure sum in an early 1990s Lotto draw

 

A Lotto winner has lost a 10-year legal battle over a plan to set up a Titanic-themed bar in Cobh, Co Cork.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by Vincent Keaney, from Cobh, who won a seven-figure sum in an early 1990s Lotto draw.

The appeal arose out of the dismissal in 2008 by the High Court of Mr Keaney’s case concerning his efforts to get additional funding after he ran out of money to complete the Titanic Bar and Restaurant.

To do so, Mr Keaney had used his winnings to buy and convert the former Cunard White Star terminal “Scotts Building” in the port town which once served the trans-Atlantic liner route.

The High Court heard Mr Keaney invested between IR£430,000 and IR£475,000 but by early 2000 was in financial difficulty and had borrowed extensively in an attempt to complete the project. He then sought investment from third parties.

Breakdown

One of them was Cork publican, Mike Nolan, who was introduced to Mr Keaney by accountant James Sullivan who previously had a practice in Cork and was a consultant at that stage.

Arising out of the breakdown of business relationships, Mr Keaney sued Mr Nolan and Mr Sullivan, along with a number of other parties against whom the High Court struck out proceedings several years ago.

Mr Keaney’s case proceeded against Mr Nolan for alleged breach of contract and over the 2004 assignment of the Scotts Building to Mr Nolan and his wife, Julia. He also sought damages in relation to an agreement over the acquisition of an adjoining property called the Tragan Building.

He also sued Mr Sullivan claiming he was negligent and in breach of contract by failing to disclose to Mr Keaney a conflict of interest. That was, it was alleged, because Mr Sullivan acted as agent/accountant/business associate of Mr Nolan.

The claims were denied.

In 2008, the High Court said Mr Keaney had failed in all his claims and dismissed the case against Mr and Mrs Nolan and Mr Sullivan.

Key question

Upholding that decision on behalf of a three-judge Supreme Court, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said a key question in the case was whether there was an agreement between Mr Keaney and Mr Nolan in March 2000 about investing in the business.

The court heard a company, Titanic Queenstown, was set up at that stage to operate the business but by December 2002, Mr Nolan decided he did not want to continue in a loss-making entity and the business ceased.

Ms Justice Dunne said Mr Keaney had challenged head-on findings of fact made by the High Court.

The High Court judge, the late Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, had clearly set out in his judgment the various issues raised on his findings of primary fact, the inferences to be drawn and the conclusions which followed from those findings.

Mr Keaney had not demonstrated those findings were not supported by credible evidence, Ms Justice Dunne ruled.