Tuesday 25 October 2016

Bus passenger 'humiliated by driver' who accused her of fraud awarded €10,500

Lana Froze, of Woodland Park, Rush, leaving the circuit Civil Court
Lana Froze, of Woodland Park, Rush, leaving the circuit Civil Court
Dublin Bus

A passenger, who, a judge said, was “utterly humiliated” by a bus driver who had accused her of fraud, was today awarded €10,500 damages in the Circuit Civil Court for defamation of character.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, said Lana Froze had been put through a humiliating experience after the driver “held passengers to ransom” by detaining them in the bus until she had agreed to get out.

The court had heard that in March 2014 Froze boarded bus 33 in Rush, Co Dublin, to go to her workplace at the Premier Inn, Airside, Swords, Co Dublin, and €2.50 had been debited from her Leapcard.

Froze, of Woodland Park, Rush, said the usual ticket cost of €3.05 was reduced to €2.50 when using a Leapcard, however the same driver had a few weeks previously told her that she was required to pay an extra fare.

Barrister Liam Bell, counsel for Ms Froze, said that when she boarded the bus the driver, who had recognised her, stopped the bus two stops before her destination, approached her and told her she had to get off as it was her bus stop.

The court heard the driver had, in front of other passengers, told her that she had only paid to go to Swords Main Street. As Froze had refused to leave the bus, the driver had gone back to his seat, switched off the engine and waited, refusing to drive the bus any farther.

Froze said she had felt ashamed and embarrassed by the incident which had taken place in the full view of other passengers, who themselves had been anxious to get to their work. She felt she had no choice but to leave the bus following the driver’s demand and walk to her place of work.

She said she had later complained to Dublin Bus, which had then apologised and offered €7,500 compensation, which she had refused.

Judge Groarke, awarding her €10,500 damages along with her legal costs, said the apology from Dublin Bus had not mentioned that Ms Froze had been humiliated although she had done absolutely nothing wrong.

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