A PIZZA delivery man has been awarded €7,000 by the High Court after a dog bit his finger when he was pushing a promotional leaflet through a letterbox.
Arpit Khurana (23) sued the householders Vincent and Bernie Fitzgerald over the incident at their then-home in Windsor Terrace in Portobello, Dublin, on October 19, 2009.
Mr Khurana, a native of India living at Corn Exchange, Poolbeg Street, Dublin, had been delivering promotional "Apache Pizza" menu leaflets when, as he put one through the Fitzgerald letter box, he claimed their Alsatian-type dog "Nelson" bit his finger causing it to bleed and he later required hospital treatment including a tetanus shot.
He brought his case in the Circuit Court which in February last year dismissed his claim. Judge Matthew Deery, who also dismissed a claim by Mr Khurana against the operators of Apache Pizza, said he had no legal permission to put his hand through the letter box. He was also not satisfied the incident had happened as outlined by him.
Mr Khurana brought an appeal in the High Court over the dismissal of the case against the couple.
Today in the High Court, Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley allowed his appeal and awarded him €7,000 plus the costs of the High and Circuit Court cases.
Ms Justice O'Malley noted the Fitzgeralds had said there was no way the incident could have happened because there was a box on the back of the letterbox with a flap on it that was never left in the open position.
However, it seemed to her the flap in question did not extend the full depth of the letterbox and was about a half a centimetre short.
"It seems to me entirely possible the dog in fact got its nose under the flap and managed to bite his hand."
It was not necessary to prove negligence on the part of the Fitzgeralds and she had no reason to disbelieve Mr Khurana's evidence.
The judge also said the medical evidence was compelling and while he was left with a very small scar which was not very visible, it seemed to be permanent.
Earlier, Mr Fitzgerald, who has since moved to Synge Street, Dublin, told the court there was no way the incident could have happened because there is a box behind the letter box and the flap on it is always down which meant it would not have been possible for the dog to have bitten him.
He was at home on the day of the alleged incident and had heard nothing. It was not until ten days later that "an Indian guy and four or five others" called to his door claiming he was bitten. "He was looking for money and said his solicitor had told him he would get money. I told him to f*** off."
It is believed the Fitzgerald's insurers, FBD, will pick up the bill for the award.
Mrs Fitzgerald said, following last year's Circuit Court decision, that as a result of this case, their house insurance went up quite dramatically.