A teenage member of the Traveller community, who was wrongly accused of not having paid for a takeaway in a pizza store, was told by a member of staff that the shop was no St Vincent de Paul giving out free food, a judge heard today.
Barrister Tim Sheehan, told Judge John O’Connor in the Circuit Civil Court that just a year ago in Dominos Pizza in Citywest, Dublin, the teenager had been kept waiting outside for 20 minutes after having insisted on the gardaí being called. He eventually left without the food he had paid for.
Mr Sheehan, who appeared with Elizabeth Ferris Solicitors for Patrick Connors, said the practice in the store was that a customer would order and pay for food and then wait until it had been prepared for them.
When the young man’s food order had arrived at the counter an assistant asked him: “Can I be paid for this?” Patrick, of Gozzana, Kingswood Cross, Dublin, said he had already paid for it and had been told: “Either pay now or be removed. We are not a charity like St Vincent de Paul. We don’t give out food for free.”
When he repeated he had paid for his order the assistant had said:
I have never heard anyone speak like you on the map before. I don’t understand you.
Mr Sheehan said several security staff from Citywest Shopping Centre then arrived and one told Patrick they had called the gardaí at his request but the gardaí never arrived.
“The following day when his mother, Bridget Connors, called to Dominos about the incident she received an apology from a staff member,” Mr Sheehan said. “She was told the entire incident had been videoed and the CCTV had made it quite clear Patrick had paid and had been wrongly accused.”
Mr Sheehan said Domino’s insurance representatives had, during negotiations, acted very openly and had stated the error had occurred because of a change of staff shift between Patrick having ordered and having gone to the shop counter to collect the food.” Counsel said the defendants, K & M Pizzas, which traded as Dominos Pizza, Citywest, had met the boy’s claim through his mother Bridged Connors, very fairly.
Judge O’Connor, approving a damages settlement offer of €12,500 to Patrick, told Mr Sheehan he had done particularly well in his negotiations as normally such cases of defamation attracted settlements of six or seven thousand euro.
The judge directed that, while Patrick, an apprentice gardener, would be 18 on June 26th next, his money should be paid into court until then. If it was only a matter of weeks before a minor reached their majority the court would normally order a direct pay-out to them through their solicitor.
The court heard the remarks that had been defamatory of Patrick had been publicly stated in the shop on November 16 last year when he was aged 16. K&M Pizzas had had also offered to pay Circuit Court costs in the proceedings.