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Woman's injury claim thrown out after fitness photos shown in court

Dublin resident Rita Milinovic (29) had claimed her life was dramatically altered by what was described as a minor car park collision.

A WOMAN’S €60,000 damages claim for personal injuries was dismissed in the Circuit Civil Court today after a judge found her case was undermined by photos she had posted online.

Rita Milinovic, a 29-year-old Lithuanian who has been living in Ireland for almost 10 years, told the court how her life had been dramatically changed by what was described as a minor collision in a car park.

But her case collapsed when barrister Shane English brought her through a collection of pictures which she had posted of herself on Facebook since the accident.

She was unaware that Mr English and Newmans Allianz Solicitors – the legal team acting for defending van driver Paul Ferris and O’Dwyer Property Management Limited – had downloaded them from her Facebook page.

They included a picture of her after having climbed to the top of Bray Head, as well as bikini-clad shots of her posing at international body sculpture competitions and others exercising in a gym.

Milinovic of Belfry Hall, Citywest, Dublin, told the court she had been driving her boyfriend’s car on 5 April last year, looking for a space in a car park, when Ferris, a driver for O’Dwyer Property Management had reversed into her.

She claimed she had suffered severe personal injuries and had to give up her waitressing work for six months before having to abandon her work altogether because she had been in such pain that she could not even carry plates.

Milinovic told English in cross-examination she had never been a member of a gym before the barrister produced pictures and evidence of her current membership of and exercising in a gym in Dublin and another in Lithuania. She said she swam at the Dublin gym to help her back.

English then presented her with pictures of herself dressed in a bikini at competitions in Lithuania, Latvia and Denmark.  She said she had posed in photoshoots for a magazine.

554146_496066077093465_369412869_n Rita Milinovic Facebook Facebook

“You have been wincing in agony in the witness box while giving your evidence and denied on oath you were ever a member of a gym,” English said.

You have told us nothing about your sports hobbies until your own Facebook pictures were presented to the court.

“Your case from beginning to end is a lie,” he said.

You are prepared to sue the defendants for damages and six months’ salary because you were incapable of working.

‘Far from impressed’

The president of the Circuit Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, called the case “worrying”.

He said Milinovic had presented a case of very serious injuries to her neck, shoulders and back and was unable to work “in any shape or form”, yet she had been photographed after walking to the top of Bray Head shortly after the accident.

“Having read the medical reports and listening to the plaintiff’s evidence, the court is far from impressed by the veracity of her account of her injuries,” Groarke said.

She had been, at the very least, evasive in respect of her membership of a gym and extremely evasive as regards what form of exercise she had engaged in, he said.

It is not the type of veracity a judge expects. Walking to the top of Bray Head six weeks after the accident is, with respect, not what somebody who is quite as disabled as Ms Milinovic seems to have been would be doing.

Groarke said this raised questions about how deceitful Milinovic had been with the court.

“Trying to be as politically correct as one can be in this situation, it does not look like a person with such a fine physical physique as Ms Milinovic has could have been suffering a great deal of pain,” he said.

It is perfectly obvious this is a very fit person who is not in any way physically limited in her life.

He accepted some of the pictures may have been of photoshoots, but others showed her doing physical exercises – exercises somebody with a bad back would certainly not be engaging in.

Her pictured activities did not correspond with the description she had given of herself since the accident.

“The person we see in these photographs is a very fine human specimen who is clearly in the best of physical condition and who has been working to get into that physical condition,” Groarke said.

While she may have suffered some degree of injury in the accident, it could not have been particularly serious and the law demanded of people coming to court that they must do so in total honesty, he said.

Groarke said all litigants must be honest with the court and failure to do so attracted the penalty of dismissal.

Milinovic’s case was dismissed and she was ordered to pay legal costs.

Read: Girl (5) who cut leg to the bone on ‘knife-edged’ toilet roll holder awarded €40,000

Read: Meath woman stole €132,000 from employer to repay money she had taken from previous job

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