A teenage member of the Traveller community, who was wrongly accused of not having paid for a takeaway in a pizza store, was told by a member of staff that the shop was "no St Vincent de Paul giving out free food", a judge has heard.
A damages settlement of €12,500 was approved by Judge John O'Connor for Patrick Connors (17) in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday.
Barrister Tim Sheehan, told Judge O'Connor that on November 16 last year, in Domino's Pizza in Citywest, Dublin, Mr Connors, after being accused of not paying, was kept waiting outside for 20 minutes when he insisted on gardaí being called.
He eventually left without the food he had paid for.
Mr Sheehan, who appeared with Elizabeth Ferris Solicitors for Mr Connors, said the practice in the store was that a customer would order and pay for food and then wait until it had been prepared for them.
When the young man's food order arrived at the counter, an assistant asked him: "Can I be paid for this?"
Mr Connors said he had already paid for it and was told: "Either pay now or be removed. We are not a charity like St Vincent de Paul. We don't give out food for free."
When he repeated he had paid for his order, the assistant said: "I have never heard anyone speak like you on the map before. I don't understand you."
Mr Sheehan said several security staff from Citywest Shopping Centre then arrived and one told Mr Connors they had called the gardaí at his request.
However, the gardaí never arrived.
"The following day when his mother, Bridget Connors, called to Dominos about the incident she received an apology from a staff member," Mr Sheehan said.
"She was told the entire incident had been videoed and the CCTV had made it quite clear Mr Connors had paid."
Mr Sheehan said Domino's insurance representatives had, during negotiations, acted very openly and had said the error had occurred because of a change of staff shift between Mr Connors ordering and going to the shop counter to collect the food.
Counsel said the defendants, K & M Pizzas, which traded as Dominos Pizza, Citywest, had met the boy's claim through his mother very fairly.
Judge O'Connor, approving a damages settlement offer of €12,500 to Mr Connors, told Mr Sheehan he had done particularly well in his negotiations as normally such cases of defamation attracted settlements of six or seven thousand euro.
The judge directed that, while Mr Connors, an apprentice gardener, would be 18 on June 26 next, his money should be paid into court until then.
If it was only a matter of weeks before a minor reached their majority, the court would normally order a direct pay-out to them through their solicitor.
The court heard the remarks that had been defamatory had been publicly stated in the shop last November when he was aged 16.
K&M Pizzas had also offered to pay Circuit Court costs in the proceedings.