Former dancer sues Minister


A woman has sued the Minister for Justice alleging her hopes of becoming a teacher of competitive freestyle disco dancing ended when she was injured in a traffic incident involving a Garda car.

Stacey Montgomery, now aged 22 and a trainee hairdresser of Broadford Aveue, Ballinteer, Dublin, is suing the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform arising from the accident in Dublin, on August 4th, 2007.

Ms Montgomery was a front-seat passenger in a car driven by her mother turning onto Bishop Street from Bride Street when a car driven by Gda Eugene McCarthy, of the Traffic Division, collided with the driver’s side of their vehicle.

Stacey Montgomery claims, as a result of the crash, she suffered neck and back injuries which prevented her continuing as a freestyle disco dancer and, in particular, put and end to her hopes of becoming a teacher in this specialised dancing area.

The case opened today when the court was told liability was not an issue and the case was for assessment of damages only.

Following evidence from Ms Montgomery, Geraldine Connolly SC, for the defendant, said they would be making an application later to have the case dismissed because of false and misleading testimony related to a failure to disclose Ms Montgomery had been involved in another crash in 2010.

Joseph Hogan SC, for Ms Montgomery, said it was wrong to portray his client as dishonest as they were arguing this other incident was not relevant to the claim as her career in dancing had ended as a result of the 2007 crash.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said he would only consider an application to dismiss when he has heard all the evidence.

The court heard Ms Montgomery started dancing at nine and had competed at national and world level disco dancing events, accumulating numerous trophies and certificates including 33 first places. Before the crash, her parents had bought her a timber-framed studio for their back garden where she practised regularly and used it to display her trophies.

Mr Justice O’Neill heard evidence from a number of witnesses on Ms Montgomery’s behalf who said she, before the 2007 crash, had expressed hopes and plans to go on to become a dance teacher.

Fiona McKittrick, a Belfast-based teacher of freestyle disco dancing who had taught Ms Montgomery, said she was in the top 10 to 15 students out of thousands the witness had taught.

Suggestions by the defence that Ms Montgomery had no idea of becoming a dance teacher and “concocted this story” after the crash were “complete lies”, Ms McKittrick said. She “most definitely” wanted to become a teacher and had been assisting in teaching, she said.

When told during cross examination the defence would be calling one of the most “highly paid” dance teachers in the country to say her income from teaching was just €3,600 per annum, Ms McKittrick said that teacher could not be “doing it right at all” as that income was “ridiculously low”.

Alvin Healy, a promoter of freestyle dancing events, said Stacey Montgomery told him from the age of 12 or 13 she wanted to pursue some kind of dancing career.

The hearing continues.