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This paper analyses a recent libel suit involving an Irish mining executive who brought a libel suit against his former employers Kenmare Resources. Donal Kinsella received close to $14 million in damages in 2010 after the jury found in his favor. Kinsella launched the suit in retaliation for a company issued press release which he claimed slandered him and his family.
Irish Libel Suit Earns Record Damages Award
In November of 2010 a jury awarded Irish mining executive Donal Kinsella almost $14 million in damages when it decided a libel suit he had filed against his former employers, Kenmare Resources (Caffrey 2010). The incident stemmed from a 2007 business trip to Mozambique wherein Mr. Kinsella suffered an intense bout of sleepwalking and entered a female colleague’s bedroom three times in one night (Mackey 2010).
Mr. Kinsella was naked at the time and disoriented (Mackey 2010). Kenmare’s managing director Michael Carvill claimed to have witnessed two of Kinsella’s three moonlit naked visits to company secretary Deirdre Corcoran’s suite, and described his surprise in the discovery: “I was a little shocked. I said: ‘My goodness Donal, what are you doing?’ He looked at me and didn’t say anything. He said: ‘Where’s Joe? Are you Joe?’ I said: ‘There’s no Joe here,’ and he went back to bed (Mackey 2010).
Kinsella filed the suit in response to a press release issued by Kenmare which made no reference to the fact that Kinsella was sleepwalking at the time that he visited Corcoran’s suite (Caffrey 2010).
Instead, the jury unanimously agreed that the wording of the Kenmare press release made oblique references to lewd behavior and “sexual impropriety” on the part of Mr. Kinsella, insinuated that he “made inappropriate sexual advances to Deirdre Corcoran,” and indirectly accused him of abusing his position of authority with “a vulnerable female employee” (Caffrey 2010).
The story immediately went viral and according to Kinsella’s legal counsel has made life a living hell for Kinsella, his wife Joan and their six children ever since 2007 (Caffrey 2010).
The jury in this case also determined that the press release had ulterior motives. Kenmare issued the libelous statement with the intention to “embarrass or put pressure on [Kinsella] in relation to his position in the company” and shame him into resignation (Caffrey 2010).
Caffrey, P. (2010, November 19) Record £8.5m payout for company boss who sleepwalked naked into female colleague’s bedroom. The Daily Mail. Retrieved from https://www.dailymail.co.uk
Mackey, R. (2010, November 19) Naked Irish sleepwalker wins libel suit. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/