Contractor wins court battle for paymentJuly 27, 2012 - 7:15am
BY DEARBHLA GERAGHTY
A civil action brought by a contractor against Senator Fidelma Healy Eames has been dismissed, although an order was made for €12,412 against her husband, Michael, at Galway Circuit Court yesterday.
Judge Rory McCabe concluded the two-day hearing in favour of the plaintiff, Michael Allen, who had sued the couple for money owed for plumbing and heating works at their home in Maree, Oranmore, three years ago. They had denied his claims, and counter-sued for shoddy workmanship.
“The fact that the defendants tried to rewrite the contract, and force the plaintiff to accept a deal for less than the agreed price, speaks for itself,” the Judge said in announcing his decision.
He described as “implausible” Mr Eames’ version of events – that Mr Allen had carried out works on the couple’s garage without being instructed to do so – adding that it was “unthinkable that a contractor would do it on spec.”
Senator Healy Eames became emotional in the witness box yesterday when she told the court that the total rebuild of their family home had been 12 years in the planning.
She disputed the claim made the previous day by Mr Allen that she had been in a hurry to have work on the garage completed, so as to provide offices for Fine Gael and a boardroom upstairs.
“My office was in the city, I didn’t need another office in the garage – there were no discussions about it,” she replied.
On Wednesday, Mr Allen had told the court that he was paid only €13,000 of the €28,840 he had originally quoted for plumbing and heating works before he was thrown off the job in 2009. There were also additional outgoings, or “extras”, that needed to be paid for by the defendants, he claimed.
He said that Michael Eames had pestered him to do the job. He had initially refused.
He said Mr Eames did not stick to the payment agreement reached – €10,000 on the first fix, the same amount for the second, and the balance on completion.
“Michael only gave me €7,000 – I felt he was fobbing me off, paying when he felt like it, and not what we agreed . . . he was throwing me a trickle to get things done,” he said.
He said that Mr Eames made threatening phone calls to him, one of which was received while he was in his solicitor’s office.
In his evidence, Michael Eames told the court that it was Mr Allen who had pursued him for the work, and had suggested the garage be turned into a mini-house, to save the family renting elsewhere.
“I asked for a quote (for the garage), then I arrived back one day to find them two days into the work,” Mr Eames added.
He said that Mr Allen had walked off the job and, despite efforts to get him back, the contractor had initiated legal proceedings against them.
Judge McCabe concluded the hearing by dismissing any claim made against Senator Healy Eames, whom he was satisfied was not intimately involved in the contract.
“I am satisfied that the plaintiff was at all times ready, willing, and able to finish the job, and was frustrated by the ill-advised decision (of Mr Eames) to terminate the contract. I am happy that the defendant owes money to the plaintiff.”
He made an order against Mr Eames for €12,412.97, deducting the monies paid by the homeowners to other tradesmen working on the project, he also granted costs to Mr Allen.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.