A former manager of the taxi and courier company Pony Express has been refused permission by the High Court to continue a case against Michael Smurfit Jr over an alleged stake in the company.
r Smurfit invested in Pony Express in 2006, with a company it controls taking a 25 percent stake.
The manager, Stephen McCann, had claimed that when he announced in 2008 he was preparing to leave Pony Express to join a competitor, Mr Smurfit encouraged him to stay with Pony Express and gave him a raise and equivalent 10 percent of the value offered by the company and a 10 percent share of the annual profit to be paid upon sale of the company.
Mr McCann claimed Pony Express was sold in July 2009 but was unaware of the company’s valuation.
Company records for Pony Express show that a company called Prideview Investments purchased special stock of Pony Express in mid-2009. Prideview is controlled by Ray Moore and Alan Buttimer, who also now fully own Pony Express. Accounts for Prideview show that between July 2009 and the end of 2010 Mr. Moore and Mr. Buttimer made a total of €29.8 million in director loans to Prideview.
Mr McCann claimed that he was entitled to his share of the business and profits following the sale of the Pony Express business in 2009, but that despite numerous claims to Mr Smurfit in relation to this he had not received any proceeds and Mr Smurfit refused to pay .
Mr Smurfit denied that Mr McCann was ever offered an interest in the company or a share of the profits.
Mr. McCann retired from the Company in the summer of 2009 and began claiming sales proceeds and profits in early 2010. The High Court found that the case against Mr Smurfit was resumed in January 2020 and the motion in court to dismiss the case was made in June 2021.
In March of the same year, Mr Smurfit’s lawyer wrote to Mr McCann’s lawyer.
“She asserted that the proceedings had been grossly delayed by the plaintiff; that 13 years have elapsed since the time the alleged cause of action based on an alleged oral agreement arose,” the court heard.
Mr Smurfit’s lawyer suggested that Mr McCann wanted to engage in a slur that would not be heard until at least 15 years after the alleged events. Mr McCann was asked to withdraw or drop the case within seven days, otherwise a motion to drop it would be filed for lack of prosecution and unreasonable and unexcusable delay.
Mr McCann’s lawyer responded that her client would not withdraw his lawsuit.
But the High Court prevented the action from proceeding.
“It is accepted that there was an undue delay in pursuing this action,” Judge Senan Allen noted. “For the reasons stated, I am satisfied that the delay was inexcusable and culpable. It would clearly be an injustice for the defendant to be forced to engage in litigation at a pace dictated by the plaintiff’s waxing and waning interest in the prosecution.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/smurfit-secures-dismissal-of-legal-action-over-2009-pony-express-sale-41693796.html Smurfit Secures Dismissal of 2009 Sale of Pony Express