Defamation

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.