Supermac’s founder hits out at €380,000 cost of defending injury claims

Amy Molloy

December 11 2019 02:30 AM

Supermac’s founder Pat McDonagh has criticised the “astronomical” cost of defending personal injury cases after the company racked up more than €380,000 in legal costs fighting eight claims.

Four of the cases were dismissed, two were withdrawn in court, one was settled for €9,000 while a claimant was awarded €26,250 damages in another.

But while there was €35,250 paid out in awards, the legal cost of defending the eight claims was far greater.

In one case which was defended in Tullamore Civil Circuit Court, Supermac’s paid €101,508 in legal costs after three personal injury claims were settled for a total of €9,000. The claims were brought after a hot plate shattered at the Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Co Offaly. The plaintiff claimed shards of glass entered her eye and said her two children suffered emotional distress after witnessing the incident.

The personal injuries summons said the fragments were removed and there was superficial damage suffered. The mother received €5,000 while her two children received €2,000 each.

The fast-food chain spent €32,920 defending a separate claim where a woman said she suffered “possible PTSD” and stopped eating in restaurants after she allegedly found a thumb-tack in her chips.

The case was withdrawn in court after footage emerged of her dining in a hotel.

In her affidavit, the claimant said she felt a sharp pain in her left jaw and suffered nightmares following the incident.

She claimed she stopped eating in restaurants and became anxious about her children possibly swallowing a thumb-tack.

Supermac’s also incurred costs of €65,000 defending a slip-and-fall case in the High Court which was later dismissed.

The company was also hit with legal fees of €10,788 for a separate slip-and-fall case which was also dismissed after CCTV was produced.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr McDonagh said insurance companies tend to settle as the cost of going to court is “so great”.

“Legal people are arguing with the insurance companies and insurance companies are arguing with the legal profession but at the end of the day they are all making a lot of money from personal injury claims,” he said.

Supermac’s currently has 116 outlets across the country, while Mr McDonagh also owns the Só Hotel Group, which includes six hotels, and the Plaza Group, comprising six motorway and national route service stations across the country.

He said there are currently 62 personal injury claims pending against his various business interests.

“That figure doesn’t include the franchisees,” he said.

Mr McDonagh said it is disheartening when you win a case and are still hit with huge costs.

“Sometimes you get the result, but you don’t always get the justice,” he said.