Tuesday 12 December 2017

Dublin Bus driver awarded €12.5k after offensive graffiti about him was written on toilet door

Stock picture
Stock picture

Saurya Cherfi

A Dublin Bus driver, who claimed he was defamed by a “very offending” graffiti written on a toilet door at his workplace, has been awarded €12,500 damages in the Circuit Civil Court against his employer.

Judge James O’Donohoe said that although Dublin Bus, which had delivered a full defence to the claim, could not be held liable for the graffiti itself, it had been “dilatory”, or slow, in removing it.

Paul Peppard told the court that on March 3, 2015, he noticed the graffiti, which was allegedly written by an employee on the door of the men’s toilets and which cannot be repeated publicly, at Dublin Bus Donnybrook Garage, Donnybrook, Dublin.

He said the words were written prominently and in a position to be seen by a significant number of persons using or having access to the toilets.  He had been “very much upset” by the meaning of the words and had reported the matter to his supervisor.

He told his barrister, Stephen J Byrne, that a notice warning against graffiti was “sello-taped” on the offending words, but it worn out and they had still been visible more than a month later.

Peppard, of Shanganagh Grove, Shanganagh, Shankill, Co Dublin, said he then told a union representative that he wanted something done about the graffiti.  It had been removed permanently later that day.  

Mr Byrne, who appeared with solicitors Sean Grennan & Co, said the offending words meant that Mr Peppard was untrustworthy and deserved to be shunned by all right thinking members of society.

Counsel said the graffiti had been mentioned to Mr Peppard by colleagues and he had suffered humiliation, distress, hurt and embarrassment.  

Barrister Jeri Ward, for Dublin Bus, said Mr Peppard had not informed his supervisor of the graffiti which had been removed as soon as the company had become aware of it.

It denied it had placed a warning notice over the written words or that the graffiti had been written by one of its employees.

Ms Ward said Dublin Bus claimed it could not be held vicariously liable, a liability imposed on one person for torts committed by another, as, if the graffiti was written by an employee, that person had been acting outside the scope of his or her employment.

Judge O’Donohoe said the evidence given by Dublin Bus employees had been too vague in relation to dates and he therefore preferred the one of Mr Peppard.

The judge said the “very offending” graffiti had remained on the door for some time.  He accepted that Dublin Bus had done something about it but it had not been quick enough.

“Dublin Bus fell down as it failed to react as speedily as it could,” the judge said, awarding Peppard €12,500 damages along with his legal costs.

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