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Tuesday 25 April 2017

Woman loses €75k claim after driver called her 'a skank'

Roxana Pach
Roxana Pach

A trainee dental nurse who was called "a f**king skankhole" by a Dublin Bus driver has lost a €75,000 damages claim for defamation.

Roxana Pach, of Hansted Road, Lucan, Co Dublin, claimed the remark meant she was a woman of low morals, promiscuous, dishonest, socially undesirable and a prostitute.

Ms Pach told the Circuit Civil Court that, on the evening of November 11, 2015, she boarded a city-bound bus at Adamstown and was told by the driver to leave the bus and pick up some litter he said she had dropped.

She was embarrassed and had refused to do so. Ms Pach said she asked for a ticket and he just stared at her. She had to repeat her request and he had then processed the transaction.

Criticism

After doing so, he called her "a f**king skank", which greatly upset her. When eventually leaving the bus at her stop, he said: "A f**king skankhole."

The driver told barrister Jeri Ward, for Dublin Bus, that there had been an exchange between them regarding the dropping of litter but he denied having used the words she claimed.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said the court was satisfied the driver had made the remarks.

"In day-to-day situations, people use throwaway comments of criticism which are not meant in any defamatory manner," said Ms Ward.

"The bus driver got annoyed when the plaintiff refused to pick up the litter, but no reasonable person would pick up the meaning of the plaintiff being a woman of low moral standing, promiscuous or a prostitute by the remarks."

Judge Groarke said Ms Pach had thrown litter on to the ground and he complimented the driver for having taken her to task for that conduct.

"I have found that he uttered the words complained of and there is no question that the words used have the potential to be grievously defamatory of a woman in particular," Judge Groarke said.

He said the question before the court was, would it be reasonable for anyone hearing those words spoken in the particular context of refusing to pick up the litter, determine Ms Pach was a person of low moral character?

Judge Groarke said he did not think so, adding the words spoken by the driver had been used as a reprimand.

Judge Groarke, stating that the words should not have been spoken, made no order for costs against Ms Pach.

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