The discovery of Facebook pictures of a woman showing off a “fine physical physique” have damaged a €60,000 personal injuries claim in the Circuit Civil Court.
Rita Milinovic (29), a waitress from Lithuania, was told by a judge that she had not been honest with the court in a case that highlighted the dangers of what people say about themselves on the internet.
Ms Milinovic, who has been living in Ireland for almost 10 years, “winced in agony” in the witness box as she told how her life had been changed by what was described as a minor collision in a car park.
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, 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 climbing to the top of Bray Head and shots of her posing at international body sculpture competitions in a bikini.
Ms Milinovic, of Belfry Hall, Citywest, Dublin, told the court she had been driving her boyfriend’s car on April 5th last year, looking for a space in a car park, when Ferris 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 she could not even carry plates.
Ms Milinovic told Mr English she had never been a member of a gym before the barrister produced pictures and evidence of her exercising in a gym in Dublin and another in Lithuania. She said she swam at the Dublin gym to help her back.
Mr English then presented her with pictures of herself in a bikini at competitions in Lithuania, Latvia and Denmark. She said she had posed in photo shoots for a magazine.
“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,” Mr 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,” Mr English said.
When Mr English asked the court to dismiss her case before any further evidence was allowed, Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, said the case was “worrying.”
He said Ms Milinovic had , at the very least, been evasive in respect of her membership of a gym and extremely evasive as regards what form of exercise she had engaged in.
Judge Groarke said this raised a question mark over how deceitful Ms 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,” the judge said. “It is perfectly obvious this is a very fit person who is not in any way physically limited in her life.”
Judge Groarke said all litigants must be honest with the court and failure to do so attracted the penalty of dismissal. Ms Milinovic’s case was clearly one that attracted dismissal and an order for legal costs against her.