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Court orders man to pay €410,000 to heartbroken stepchildren he left alone in family home – The Irish Times

A man who left his heartbroken stepchildren alone in the family home before “cutting off all income” has been ordered to pay them €410,000 in damages and legal fees.

Judge Eileen Roberts said Tara, Karl and Desmond Seepersad, now adults, had been for some years without any income due under a 2009/2010 settlement agreement they signed with their estranged stepfather, Jim Cahill, when they were between 17 and 18 years old. his 20 years.

His mother, Brigid Seepersad, died in a car accident while on vacation in 2008.

The High Court judge recently heard that Cahill (78) could seek to appeal his October 2023 ruling, which awarded him general and aggravated damages, once he makes final orders in the ongoing case over the dissolution of the partnership business of the parties in relation to the operation of a nursing home owned by Brigid Seepersad.

Despite certain outstanding issues, Judge Roberts said she was satisfied she could order Mr Cahill to pay the Seepersad brothers around €210,000 in damages and give him three months to pay €200,000 in interim legal fees. She was aware that her lawsuit against the brothers had been ongoing for more than a decade and that her legal team had not been paid for some time.

Last October it discovered that, in late 2012, Mr Cahill, based in Rathfeigh, Co Meath, made a “calculated decision, entirely in his own interest” to terminate partnership payments, including the mortgage of his family home and his education. .

By then he was an experienced businessman, previously chief executive of Lough Egish Dairy (now Lakeland Dairies), while the brothers were “stricken, vulnerable and inexperienced, barely out of their teens”, he said.

Judge Roberts said that, unbeknownst to the Seepersads and Mr Cahill at the time, Brigid Seepersad had obtained a divorce decree from him two days before his death. They had married in 2002.

She died intestate, leaving behind the family home in Co Meath, which still had a mortgage; She had £176,000 and a care home business, which she had run with Mr Cahill.

As part of the 2009/2010 settlement agreement, Cahill obtained a High Court order in 2012 annulling the divorce, a move he confirmed was intended to allow him to claim a share of Brigid Seepersad’s estate, the judge said.

The agreement provided that shares in the nursing home company would be split 60:40 between Mr Cahill and the brothers, with their stake subsequently reduced to 55 per cent. The profits were to be divided approximately equally.

Mr Cahill was to receive €150,000 in recognition of his contribution to the nursing home and a monthly salary of €5,000.

The siblings would receive the family home and UK funds, while profits from the nursing home would cover their household bills and mortgage payments, plus five years of education expenses. Tara Seepersad would also receive an annual salary of 12,000 euros for “continuous work” at the nursing home.

The Seepersads agreed not to oppose Cahill’s request to annul the divorce, but he said they violated the agreement by later trying to object.

The Seepersads, represented by Edward Farrelly SC and David Purdue BL, instructed by Shannon O’Connor Solicitors, claimed they endured “enormous and enduring hardship” when in 2012 Mr Cahill “unilaterally” terminated all payments owed to them, he said Judge Roberts.

The judge did not accept Mr Cahill’s claims that he had stopped payments because of financial problems with the company and because he had overpaid them. He also rejected his claim that her interference with his divorce application justified rescinding the payments.

She said Cahill, who has since remarried his first wife, “left the then-teenage defendants living alone in the family home, only to cut off all income from them once he obtained the court order he needed to claim home for old people. ”. His refusal to erect a headstone for his mother was “callous and cruel,” she added.

By mid-2022, the Seepersads claimed, there was a possibility that their family home would be repossessed and they would be unable to pay their electricity and other bills. Cahill accused them of squandering his inheritance.

Judge Roberts said Cahill operated the nursing home as if he were a sole trader and excluded the Seepersads from any significant involvement in the partnership’s business since at least 2012.

He awarded the Seepersads damages, including aggravated damages for Mr. Cahill’s “exceptional and willful misconduct” in breaching his fiduciary duty to them as business partners and stepchildren.

After last week ordering Mr Cahill, represented by O’Connor & Bergin Solicitors, to pay the Seepersads’ interim legal fees and damages, the judge adjourned the case until June 10.

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