Deborah Hastings - An Irish jury has awarded nearly $14 million -- the largest libel award in Ireland's history -- to a former executive who said his career had been ruined after his employers insinuated he'd made sexual advances to a colleague by showing up naked at her hotel room door.
Donal Kinsella told the court that he had been sleepwalking. During a business trip to Mozambique in 2007, he had been drinking and taking painkillers before falling asleep. He appeared outside the woman's room three times in one night, each time wearing only his birthday suit, The New York Times reported.
Even the judge appeared surprised at the huge award. On Thursday, Justice Eamon de Valera asked the jury whether he had read the sum correctly. He ordered that only about $680,000 (500,000 euros) could be paid while the company appeals, Britain's Daily Mail reported.
Lawyers for Kenmare Resources, a London- and Dublin-based mining company, said they would immediately file an appeal against the amount, calling it "off the Richter scale."
Kinsella, a married father of six, sued for libel, claiming a press release issued by Kenmare after the incident had ruined his reputation and made him an international "laughing stock" after news reports about his naked somnambulism went viral on the Internet, London's The Daily Telegraph reported. The 11-person jury unanimously decided that Kenmare's press release -- which did not detail the sleepwalking incident -- had implied that Kinsella had "made inappropriate sexual advances to Deirdre Corcoran," a company secretary.
Jurors also said the statement was intended to embarrass or put pressure on Kinsella to resign.
The award is nearly 10 times the amount of the previously highest libel amount -- given to public relations worker Monica Leech when a jury decided a series of newspaper articles falsely suggested she had an affair with a Cabinet minister, The Irish Times said.
via Naked Sleepwalker Donal Kinsella Wins Record $14M Libel Award.