Tuesday 16 October 2018

'Greasy fries' teacher previously sued Multiple Sclerosis sufferer for defamation

Christian Morris has been described as a 'serial litigator'

Teacher Christian Morris. Photo: Collins Courts
Teacher Christian Morris. Photo: Collins Courts

Amy Molloy and Ray Managh

A man who lost a €75,000 damages claim for defamation against a McDonald’s restaurant yesterday had previously sued a woman with Multiple Sclerosis for defamation following a parking incident, Independent.ie can reveal.

Christian Morris (44), of Seagrove, Claremont Road, Howth, Co Dublin, was described in court as a "serial litigator" back in 2011.

Mr Morris attempted to stop an elderly woman with Multiple Sclerosis from parking her car in a space reserved for disabled motorists outside Superquinn’s in Sutton, the Circuit Civil Court was told.

He subsequently issued four claims against the supermarket arising out of the incident.

It was alleged that Mr Morris had seen Vera Duffy, who walks with the aid of crutches, park her car, which did not have a disabled driver sticker, and he had prevented her from going to a hairdressers.

Mr Morris then claimed Ms Duffy had defamed him by making a false statement to gardaí about the parking incident at Superquinn.

One of the four claims made against Superquinn also included alleged defamation of Mr Morris's character by Superquinn staff.

The Superquinn cases were struck out and he was ordered to give an undertaking to the court that he would not sue the store again without permission of the president of the Circuit Court.

The claim against Ms Duffy was also dismissed and Judge Jacqueline Linnane granted an order preventing Mr Morris from taking further legal action against her without first obtaining liberty of the court.

Yesterday, Mr Morris, a qualified school teacher, was before the courts again for a separate defamation claim.

He told the Circuit Civil Court he had bought food in the Mcdonald’s restaurant in Donaghmede, Dublin and the chips were so greasy that he had to wipe them with paper napkins. 

He said he had thrown the napkins onto another table and intended binning them later.

“The chips were less palatable than normal and I got some serviettes and wiped them, throwing the serviettes on a table next to me,” he said.

He said he had been approached by a security guard who ordered him to pick up his litter and stop throwing things around the restaurant.  When he had told her he would deal with his rubbish when he was ready she had ordered him: “Pick it up now.”

This had attracted the attention of a number of teenage boys in the restaurant who had called him a number of names.

He had demanded and received his money back and had used his phone to take a video of what was happening.

The teenagers had left the restaurant but one came back in again and snatched his phone. He had unsuccessfully given chase but later his phone had been returned to him less the sim card and memory card.

The security guard concerned in the incident told the court Morris had become very “aggressive and demeaning” towards her. He had become very irate, and “yanked the tray off me and slammed it into the bin.”

Judge Groarke said Mr Morris’s claim had been entirely silent with regard to any words spoken or actions taken that might be considered defamatory of him.  The court had not heard any evidence of the publication of defamatory statements by the defendant or its agents.

“How can the defendants be responsible for what an entirely different third party may say about the plaintiff,” Judge Groarke said.

With regard to Morris’s claim for damages for breach of duty by allowing a young person back into the restaurant and stealing his phone, the judge said there had been nothing about the behaviour of the teenagers that would have merited the defendants locking the door against them.

“They may have been unruly, perhaps nasty, as children sometimes will be but I don’t believe there was an obligation on the security guard to lock the doors,” Judge Groarke said.

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