Gayle Killilea, former wife of bankrupt real estate baron Sean Dunne, appealed this week against a 2019 US jury verdict ordering her to pay nearly 20 million euros to the trustee in her US bankruptcy.
Ms Killilea’s attorney, Patrick Fahey, filed an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York on Thursday. She joined her estranged husband, Mr Dunne, who filed a separate appeal with the same court last year.
Mr Fahey did not return a voicemail requesting comment,
Thomas Curran, attorney for the bankruptcy trustee, said Friday he was confident the court would uphold the verdict.
“We will aggressively defend the judgment,” Mr. Curran said. “We believe his appeal has no merit.”
Ms Killilea’s appeal comes a week after she handed over 19.5 million euros in assets to the bankruptcy trustee to seek judgment in the 2019 civil lawsuit in Connecticut. The assets include proceeds from the sale of Walford, once Ireland’s most expensive house, and $5.56 million (€6 million) in cash.
Mr Dunne moved to the United States after his property empire collapsed and eventually declared bankruptcy there. After a nearly month-long trial, a jury found in June 2019 that Mr Dunne had fraudulently transferred assets to Ms Killilea to protect them from creditors and awarded the trustee £18.1 million euros, a figure which, with interest, rose to 19.5 million euros.
Shortly after the 2019 trial, the couple revealed they had divorced. During the proceedings and since, they have had separate lawyers and have sometimes clashed in court cases.
The nearly three years since the verdict have been marked by repeated negotiations that have failed to reach a settlement and a flurry of often contentious legal claims on both sides. The trustee eventually convinced US District Judge Jeffrey Meyer to order Ms Killilea to hand over enough assets to secure the judgment.
Towards a resolution?
The case finally appeared to be heading for a resolution last summer when Judge Meyer denied Mr Dunne’s request for a new trial. Last month, he dismissed the same petition filed by Ms Killilea.
As a result, the court overturned the stay on Mr Dunne’s appeal and ordered his lawyer to file a brief (a written legal argument) by May 12. The next step will be the pleadings before a panel of judges.
Federal appeals courts in the United States generally move slowly, so it will likely be some time before the former couple’s case is decided. If they lost, they would have a final appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
In a further development, Ms Killilea’s longtime lawyers in the case withdrew in January, alleging she failed to pay them, according to a court filing. In a later filing, his new lawyer denied the dispute was about money.
Contacted by SMS, Ms. Killilea did not make a statement. Mr Dunne’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.
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