Bus firm held liable for driver's attack on cyclist
BUS Eireann has lost its claim that it should not be held liable for an assault committed on a cyclist by one of its drivers.
High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said the driver had "just about" been acting during the course of his employment when the assault occurred. While his actions were not sanctioned by his company, Bus Eireann was vicariously liable.
Last January, at Dublin Circuit Civil Court, Scott Alexander Burns (38) of the Orchard, Greenwood, Ayrfield, Dublin, was awarded €15,000 damages by Judge Jacqueline Linnane for assault. The award was against Bus Eireann.
Mr Burns had brought the action arising out of the assault in which Bus Eireann driver William Murray bent his right thumb so far back that it tore the ligaments and muscles.
Bus Eireann, which denied it was in any way responsible, then appealed that decision to the High Court. Its solicitors argued that the company should not be held vicariously liable for the actions of the driver.
Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Kearns said that what Mr Murray did to Mr Burns "was not completely unconnected from his employment".
In its appeal, Bus Eireann argued it was not liable for an action by an employee on a public footpath, which was not associated with his duties as a driver.
The assault committed on Mr Burns was entirely outside the scope of Mr Murray's employment with Bus Eireann, it was further claimed.
Ross Maguire, for Mr Burns, said the circuit court finding that Bus Eireann bore some responsibility for the driver's actions should not be disturbed.