Defamation News


Settlement of Compensation for Defamation by a Supermarket Manager Approved in Court

A judge at the Ennis Circuit Court has approved a settlement of compensation for defamation by a supermarket manager in favour of a seventeen-year-old girl.

On 5th November 2014, the unnamed teenager visited the Aldi store on Francis Street in Ennis with her infant brother, and an adult member of the Traveller community who had her own infant son with her.

While the party were in the store, they were approached by another customer, who told them she had heard the manager of the store tell a security guard to “keep an eye on the tinkers in aisle three”. The customer told the party that in her opinion the comment was made about them.

As the party continued to move around the store, the security guard followed them – maintaining “overt surveillance” over their activities. Eventually the adult Traveller confronted the store manager with what she had been told. The store manager denied the accusations, but the previous customer intervened and confirmed what she had heard the store manager say.

After telling her father what had happened in the Aldi store, he made a claim for compensation for defamation by a supermarket manager on her daughter´s behalf, alleging that she had been distressed, upset, humiliated and embarrassed.

It was claimed that the girl was very conscious of people looking at them, and upset at the thought that people might meet her outside of the store with a false impression that she did nothing to create. The girl is currently studying for her Leaving Certificate and hopes to train in Limerick for a third-level qualification in hairdressing and beauty therapy.

Aldi made an offer of compensation for defamation by a supermarket manager amounting to €7,500, but without an admission of liability or an apology. The girl´s father was not happy with the offer but, at the Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys heard that the family´s solicitor had recommended acceptance of the offer in the circumstances.

Judge Keys approved the settlement of compensation for defamation by a supermarket manager after hearing the girl´s Barrister tell the court “the pejorative and disparaging comment made by the store manager indicates a reckless form of racial stereotyping due to my client’s membership of the Traveller community”.

Mother and Daughter Awarded Compensation for being Defamed in Dunnes Stores

A mother and daughter have been awarded a combined €45,000 compensation for being defamed in Dunnes Stores at a hearing of the Limerick Circuit Court.

On 3rd May 2008, Mary McNamara and her daughter Tamara visited the Dunnes Stores at the Parkway Shopping Centre in Limerick in order to buy a confirmation dress. Unable to find anything suitable, they left the store, whereupon they were approached by a plain clothes security guard who asked them to return to the store because they had left without paying for a garment.

As the mother and daughter were innocent of any wrong-doing, they felt humiliated and embarrassed – especially as people they knew were watching on from the street. Mary McNamara sought legal advice and claimed compensation for being defamed in Dunnes Stores on her own behalf and on the behalf of her daughter.

The hearing into the claim was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe at the Limerick Circuit Court. At the hearing, Mary McNamara told the judge that she was very upset to be unjustifiably accused of theft, while the Dunnes Stores’ security guard – Syed Hasnain Alam – testified that he observed the two women on CCTV, and that Ms McNamara took an item from a hanger.

The security guard admitted that he had not been wearing security identification, and was told by Judge O´Donohoe that if had suspected the McNamara´s of theft, he should have called the Gardai. The judge said he took a serious view over the Dunnes Stores security guard not having a proper identification tag at the time he approached the McNamaras in the street.

Judge O´Donohoe awarded Mary McNamara €20,000 compensation for being defamed in Dunnes Store and Tamara €25,000. The judge commented “Dunnes Stores have to be more careful when approaching people in a public area” and said that he accepted the evidence of the two plaintiffs as credible, whereas he was more sceptical of the security guards account of events.

Boylesports to Pay Compensation for Defamation in a Betting Shop

The bookmaker Boylesports has been ordered to pay €5,000 compensation for defamation in a betting shop to a customer unjustifiably denied a bet and barred.

In November 2013, Christopher Sower went to place a bet at the Boylesports betting shop in Parkway, Dublin; when he was told by the assistant manager – Ashley Fitzpatrick – that he could not bet in the shop and that he was barred from ever entering the premises again.

As it turned out Ms Fitzpatrick had confused Christopher with another customer who had previously been disruptive in the betting shop, but Christopher was “mortified and embarrassed” by what the assistant manager had said because it was within earshot of other customers that knew him.

A few days later Christopher telephoned Boylesports customer services to report the incident and was offered an apology and a free €100 bet. Christopher declined the offer and instead sought legal advice and made a claim for compensation for defamation in a betting shop.

At the Circuit Civil Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard that Ms Fitzpatrick had made the allegations in error because she had only been told about the disruptive customer by her manager, who had failed to show her a photograph of the customer she was supposed to bar.

Boylesports admitted that a mistake had been made, but argued that Ms Fitzpatrick had later realized her mistake and apologized to Christopher. Furthermore, the betting company claimed, it was unlikely that any other customers in the betting shop had been aware of the alleged defamatory incident.

After finding that the manager of the Parkway betting shop had been negligent by failing to provide adequate identification of the disruptive customer, and saying that he was satisfied that Christopher had been defamed, Judge Groarke ordered Boylesports to pay Christopher €5,000 compensation for defamation in a betting shop.

Woman Awarded €10,500 Compensation for being Defamed by a Bus Driver

A woman from Dublin, who was publicly humiliated by a bus driver, has been awarded €10,500 compensation for being defamed by the Circuit Civil Court.

In March 2014, Lana Froze from Rush in Dublin boarded the Nº 33 Dublin Bus to travel to the Premier Inn in Swords where she worked. As she was using her Leapcard, Lana paid €2.50 for the regular €3.05 fare as she was within her rights to do.

As the bus approached Swords Main Street, the driver of the bus pulled over and told Lana she had to get off the bus – two stops before her destination – as this was as far as she had paid to travel. Lana refused, and the bus driver went back to his seat, turned off the engine and refused to drive the bus any further until Lana disembarked.

Embarrassed and concerned that she was making other passengers late for work, Lana got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to work. She complained to Dublin Bus, who apologised and offered her €7,500 compensation for being defamed; but Lana refused the compensation settlement and took her claim to court.

At the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard that the same driver had told Lana several weeks previously that she had to pay extra to travel to her work, but had allowed her to stay on the bus. On this occasion however, Lana said, she felt humiliated by the driver´s actions which had “held passengers to ransom”.

After hearing that Lana had done nothing wrong by using her Leapcard to pay the €2.50 fare instead of €3.05, Judge Groarke awarded Lana €10,500 compensation for being defamed in public plus her legal costs. Judge Groarke commented that Dublin Bus had failed to acknowledge that Lana was unjustifiably humiliated in its apology.

Judge Awards Sisters Compensation for being Defamed in a Shop

Three sisters have each been awarded €2,500 compensation for being defamed in a shop at the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre after a court hearing.

Lisa, Karen and Fiona Ralph were inspecting a €1,300 Bugaboo baby buggy at the Mamas & Papas shop in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre as Lisa was soon expecting her first child, when an initially unidentified man screamed at the sisters to put the pram down and get out of the shop.

On hearing the commotion, the assistant manager of the shop Cristina Cojano – who had been doing accounting work in the storeroom – came out into the store and identified the man as her husband Claude. She apologised to the three sisters and told her husband to also apologise which he did.

Mrs Cojano then offered Lisa a €500 voucher off of the price of the buggy, but the sisters declined the offer – saying that it had been implied that they had done something wrong in front of other shoppers and that they were “mortified and embarrassed” by the outburst.

After seeking legal advice from a solicitor, Lisa, Karen and Fiona from Lucan in County Dublin claimed compensation for being defamed in a shop. The claim was heard by Ms Justice Jacqueline Linnane at the Circuit Civil Court, who awarded each of the three sisters €2,500 compensation for being defamed in a shop after taking into account that there had been an immediate apology and a substantial discount offered against the price of the buggy.

Woman Settles Claim for Defamation in a DIY Store

A woman who claimed she was wrongly accused of not paying for a mop and bucket has settled her claim for defamation in a DIY store for an undisclosed amount.

Ana Malone (66) of Cabra in Dublin made her claim for defamation in a DIY store after visiting Woodies on Malahide Road in October 2012 to buy garden plants and a bucket and mop. After paying for her purchases, Ana left them by the till to first help her ninety-five year old mother and sister back to the car.

A helpful shop assistant carried the garden plants out to the car but, when Ana collected the mop and bucket and took them back to the car, she was stopped by another shop assistant who claimed that Ana had not paid for the goods. Ana had to leave her mother and sister in the car to go back to the DIY store and present her till receipt.

Humiliated by the ordeal, Ana sought legal advice and made a claim for defamation in a DIY store. Woodies denied the allegations and said that the incident was just a misunderstanding. They claimed that Ana had not been ordered back into the store and that it had never been publicly stated that she had failed to pay for the mop and bucket.

Unable to agree a negotiated settlement, the claim for defamation in a DIY store went to the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Judge Jacqueline Linnane. Ana told the judge that she had been made a spectacle of in front of other shoppers and had subsequently felt so vulnerable that she had to be treated by her GP.

Judge Linnane also heard that members of staff at the store would testify Ana had never been accused of failing to pay for the mop and bucket, after which an adjournment was requested. When the hearing resumed, Judge Linnane was told that the claim for defamation in a DIY store had been settled and the case could be struck out with an order for Ana´s legal costs.

Guesthouse Owner Awarded €70,000 Compensation for Defamation on the Radio

A guesthouse owner from County Waterford has successfully recovered compensation for defamation on the radio after his premises was described as a brothel.

Vincent O´Toole is a highly respected member of the Waterford community having been a former ships master and racehorse breeder. Now aged 84, Vincent is the owner of the Maryland House guesthouse in Mall, which was described in 2006 by the Sunday World newspaper as a brothel.

Vincent sued the paper for defamation and won his case in 2007. However, the court case against the Sunday World was not the end of the saga as, in August 2008, an episode of the Gerry Ryan Show on 2FM carried a “Nob Nation” sketch in which Maryland House was referred to as “a byword in Waterford for prostitution”.

Vincent made a claim for compensation for defamation on the radio against RTÉ – the operators of 2FM – who, although apologising for any distress Vincent may have experienced, denied that the sketch was defamatory. RTÉ said that the reference to his guesthouse could only have caused him limited emotional damage and limited damage to his reputation.

However, Vincent claimed in his legal action that tourists had arrived at his guesthouse expecting it to be a brothel, and that the gardaí had to be called after he and his wife had been verbally abused. Vincent added that RTÉ had published a guide to acceptable program standards in June 2008, and that these standards had been ignored during the broadcast of the “Nob Nation” sketch.

The case went to the High Court in Dublin, where a jury heard RTÉ again apologise for defaming the guesthouse on 2FM, but say that the damage was limited by the fleeting nature of the reference to the guest house in the broadcast and the generally jocose tone in which the reference was delivered. The jury awarded Vincent €70,000 compensation for defamation on the radio – Vincent later commenting that he felt vindicated for bringing the claim for compensation for defamation on the radio.