A 51-year-old jobless woman, who claimed a bus driver had acted “like an a**hole” towards her and put her off his bus, has lost a defamation claim for €75,000 damages against Dublin Bus.
Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain told defence counsel Jeri Ward she believed the bus driver’s version of what had happened on the 27B bus over a dispute about the payment or non-payment of a fare.
The judge directed Sylvia Corrigan, of Clonree Road, Donnycarney, Dublin 5 to pay the legal costs of Dublin Bus estimated to be in the region of €15,000.
After having watched a CCTV review of what had happened on the bus on June 24th, 2018, Judge Ni Chulachain said it was clear Ms Corrigan was “speaking considerably more words” in the direction of driver Dara Black than he was to her.
Corrigan, who broke down in tears during her evidence, told the court Black had accused her of not having paid her €2.15 fare. When cross-examined by Ms Ward she denied having acted extremely aggressively and offensively towards the driver and of having used foul language and threatening to get him fired.
“In a very low voice I said ‘why are you being an a**hole to me’ and he said ‘get off my bus,’” Ms Corrigan told the court.
“I was so shocked, upset and embarrassed I just got off the bus. I felt I was being treated as a criminal,” Corrigan added. “I wasn’t screaming or aggressive. The bus was full and passengers overheard the driver tell me to get off.”
Ms Corrigan had sued Dublin Bus for defamation of character and had told the Circuit Civil Court she had joined the bus with a number of people, activating her Leap card against the bus machine as she entered.
Mr Black said he had not seen Corrigan activate her card. He had seen her standing by the machine while looking into her bag, and he had assumed she was going to take her card out.. He had later accepted she had paid her fare, but she had started shouting and screaming foul language at him.
Ms Ward said Dublin Bus accepted that the driver had made an honest mistake but denied, in its defence documents that he had shouted at her. He had told her he had to drive the bus and if she was going to continue being aggressive it might be better if she got off .
As she got off the bus he had printed out a refund docket for her but mistakenly only printed it for 15c rather than the €2.15 he accepted she had paid.
Judge Ni Chulachain, dismissing her case and directing that she pay Dublin Bus’s legal costs, said she was satisfied that what had started the exchange between the driver and her was Ms Corrigan having become upset.
The judge said Ms Corrigan had to establish her case and had failed to do so. The court accepted Mr Black’s evidence to be the more credible and preferred his version of what had happened.