Woman who claimed she was called 'scum' by bus driver loses €50k damages claim

Saurya Cherfi

A 33-year-old Dublin mother, who claimed she was described as scum and put off a bus by the driver, today lost a €50,000 damages claim for defamation against Dublin Bus in the Circuit Civil Court.

Simone Connington claimed that in January last year she had been travelling to the Northside Shopping Centre in Dublin when bus driver James Travers had , out of the blue, told her not be “so f**king arrogant” after she had spoken to a wheelchair user.

Connington claimed that the bus had been packed and Travers had asked people to move along to allow the wheelchair user to go into a designated area for wheelchairs.

She told Gerard O’Herlihy, solicitor for Dublin Bus, that Travers had made the remark to her after she had bent towards the wheelchair user to tell him of the bus driver’s directions, as she felt the wheelchair user had not heard them.

She alleged that when she had asked the driver why he had spoken to her in the way he had, she said Travers had refused to listen to her, got out of his cab, waved his hands and said: “Get off the bus, we don’t need scum like you on this bus, go on, go on, we don’t need you here.”

Connington, of Upper Dominic Street, Dublin, said she was ejected from the bus and had to walk to her destination. She claimed she had suffered humiliation, embarrassment and anxiety following the incident.

Mr O’Herlihy said Dublin Bus denied liability or that Mr Travers had spoken the alleged defamatory words to Ms Connington. He told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that Connington had been abusive towards the driver.

Travers said he had asked another woman, who had used abusive language to him, to get off the bus.  Connington had then approached him and, cursing,  had told him it was disgraceful for him to have put the other woman off.

Mr O’Herlihy said Ms Connington had got off the bus herself, had gone in front of it to take a picture of the registration number, afterwards showing a two fingers gesture to the driver.

Judge Linnane said it was Ms Connington’s own evidence that she had been using “some language” and therefore the bus driver had been entitled to eject her.  Dismissing Connington’s claim, with an order for costs against her, the judge said she had failed to prove her case.