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Sunday 20 October 2019

Friends settle defamation case against restaurant that said they didn't pay

Lee Byrne (pictured) and Lee Gibson received an apology
Lee Byrne (pictured) and Lee Gibson received an apology
Lee Gibson

Five friends have settled a defamation case they had brought against a restaurant for accusing them of leaving without paying for a buffet meal.

The five had claimed they were wrongly accused of failing to pay the €200 bill after eating at a restaurant in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

They had sued the restaurant, Cosmo, claiming to have been "deeply shaken and upset at this incident and the gross slurs" on their good names.

Mistake

The case was brought by Lee Byrne (19), of Raleigh Square, Crumlin; Lee Gibson (20), of Knocknarea Avenue, and Jordan Dunphy, of Mourne Road, both in Drimnagh; Corrie Colgan (30), of Dolphin House, Rialto; and Ashford Coughlan (22), of Hanover Reach, Forbes Street, Hanover Quay.

The action was taken at Dublin Circuit Civil Court by the five against Great Dublin Capital, the owners of the restaurant, over an incident on February 8, 2017. The case was settled on terms including the reading of an apology in court, in which the restaurant owners said they "sincerely apologised" for what was a "mistake" after the five paid for the meal in full, including a tip.

Judge Raymond Groarke struck out the proceedings.

According to the plaintiffs' claim papers, submitted to the court, they ate from the buffet on the day, paid the bill and left a tip of about €10 to €15.

After they left, a waitress blocked their access to the lift and "spoke in a loud and accusatory manner", saying in full view of the public: "You did not pay for the food."

They told her she was mistaken and she allowed them to leave, but in the car park the restaurant manager said loudly, again in view of the public: "Lads, lads, come back, you didn't pay." The plaintiffs remonstrated but the manager "continued to address them in an accusatory manner", asking them to return upstairs to the restaurant to "sort the matter out".

The documents stated the plaintiffs felt they had no choice and returned to the restaurant, where they were told to stand at the door and it was clear to members of the public that they were being accused of leaving without paying their bill.

Counsel for the plaintiffs told the court matters had been settled between the parties on terms including the reading of an apology to the court.

A barrister for the defendants then read out the apology, saying that as a result of an error on the part of staff, it was thought they had left the restaurant without paying.

All had in fact paid in full and left a tip, the apology continued.

"The defendant sincerely apologises to the plaintiffs for the mistake," the barrister said.

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