Tuesday 18 June 2019

Five friends settle defamation case after restaurant accused them of not paying for meal

Lee Byrne, of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, Dublin pictured at the Four Courts for a Circuit Civil Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Lee Byrne, of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, Dublin pictured at the Four Courts for a Circuit Civil Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

FIVE friends have settled a defamation case they had brought against a restaurant for accusing them of leaving without paying for a buffet meal.

The five had claimed they were wrongly accused of failing to pay the €200 bill after eating at a restaurant in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

They had sued Cosmo restaurant, claiming to have been “deeply shaken and upset at this incident and the gross slurs" on their good name.

The case was brough by Lee Byrne (19) of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, Lee Gibson (20) of Knocknarea Avenue and Jordan Dunphy from Mourne Road, both in Drimnagh, as well as Corrie Colgan (30) of Dolphin House, Rialto and Ashford Coughlan (22) of Hanover Reach, Forbes Street, Hanover Quay.

The action was taken at Dublin Circuit Civil Court by the five against Great Dublin Capital Ltd, the owners of the restaurant over an incident on February 8, 2017.

The case was settled on terms including the reading of an apology out to court in which the restaurant owners said they “sincerely apologised” for what was a “mistake” after the five paid for the meal in full, including a tip.

Judge Raymond Groarke struck out the proceedings.

According to the plaintiffs’ claim papers, submitted to the court, they ate from the buffet on the day and left a tip of about €10 to €15.

When they had finished their meal, they requested the bill which came to over €200. The plaintiffs paid in cash, including an additional service tip and it was collected by one of the waiting staff, the documents stated.

The five then left the premises. As they waited at the elevator to go down to the ground floor of the shopping centre, they were approached by a waitress in uniform, who blocked their access to the elevator with her hand.

“The waitress spoke in a loud and accusatory manner,” the document stated, adding that in full view of the public she said “you did not pay for the food.”

The plaintiffs told her she was mistaken and she repeated: “you did not pay for the food.”

The documents stated the plaintiffs said again she was mistaken and ultimately the waitress allowed them to leave.

The five were in the car park when they heard someone shouting in their direction. The restaurant manager “spoke in a loud and accusatory manner,” the documents continued. In full view of the public, he said: “lads, lads, come back, you didn’t pay.”

The plaintiffs remonstrated with the manager that they did pay and had left a “generous” tip, but the manager “continued to address them in an accusatory manner.”

“The manager insisted that (the plaintiffs) return back upstairs to the restaurant to ‘sort the matter out’.”

The documents stated the plaintiffs felt they had no choice and returned to the restaurant, where they were told to stand at the door and it was clear to members of the public that they were being accused of leaving without paying their bill.

Counsel for the plaintiffs told the court matters had been settled between the parties on terms including the reading of an apology to the court.

A barrister for the defendants then read out the apology, saying that on February 8, 2017 the five plaintiffs had attended the defendants’ restaurant. As a result of an error on the part of staff, it was thought they had left the restaurant without paying. All ad in fact paid in full and left a tip, the apology continued.

“The defendant sincerely apologises to the plaintiffs for the mistake,” the barrister said.

Judge Groarke struck the proceedings out.

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