Northern Irish Firm in Pig Meal Case to Pay €38 Million

IRELAND - A High Court judge has ordered a Northern Ireland company to pay €38.7 million damages to a Co Wexford company arising from the animal feed contamination which led to the recall of all Irish pork products in 2008.
calendar icon 23 December 2010
clock icon 4 minute read reports that Irish produce was removed from supermarket shelves throughout the EU as well as in world markets, at an estimated overall cost of €180 million.

The recall was ordered after pig meat on a number of farms was found to have had between 80 and 200 times more dioxins than the recognised safety limit. Dioxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected in the biscuit feed meal for pigs and cattle.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly ruled yesterday Millstream Recycling Ltd was entitled to the damages against O’Neill Fuels Ltd, Annaghmore Hill, Coalisland, Co Tyrone, which had denied supplying any fuel containing dioxins.

Stephen Lanigan O’Keeffe SC, for Millstream, said the damages order was a vindication of his client which had been “pilloried” over the contamination.

Millstream, Clohamon Mills, Bunclody, has claimed the PCBs were contained in oil purchased by it for use in the feed manufacturing. It had not tested the feed for PCBs because these had been banned in the 1970s.

It has sued Gerard Tierney, Newtown Park Avenue, Blackrock, and his company, Newtown Lodge Ltd, Fairview, Dublin, alleging they supplied defective oil which contaminated the pig feed with dioxins.

Mr Tierney and Newtown deny the oil supplied to Millstream was defective. Alternatively, they plead, if the oil was contaminated, it was not their fault as, they allege, it was supplied to them by O’Neill Fuels Ltd, which was joined as a third party to the case. O’Neill had denied any fuel provided by it contained dioxins or PCBs.

Millstream’s action against Mr Tierney and Newtown Fuels Ltd is fixed for hearing on 15 March.

At the Commercial Court earlier this month, the judge granted Millstream’s application to dismiss O’Neill’s defence due to O’Neill’s failure to discover documents in the proceedings by Millstream against a number of parties over the contamination.

There was no appearance by or on behalf of O’Neill in court on that occasion. The judge was told that solicitors which had represented the company were previously allowed to come off record due to non co-operation by the company.

Millstream said O’Neill’s actions had deprived Millstream’s creditors of a substantial indemnity (via insurance) as O’Neill’s failure to instruct its solicitors on discovery led its insurance company to notify O’Neill’s it would repudiate the insurance policy.

The court also heard O’Neill had ceased trading and may have limited assets.

The judge adjourned consideration of the damages issue to Tuesday when, after hearing evidence for Millstream, he assessed damages in the sum of €38.7 million. Robert Hogg, managing director of Millstream, said his family had been involved in business in the Wexford area for some 50 years. He said the cause of the contamination of the animal feed products in 2008 was oil supplied by the defendants.

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