Tourist ordered to 'get out' of city bus wins €4k damages
A London chef, who claimed that Dublin Bus turned his family holiday in Ireland into a "nightmare" after accusing them of not paying a correct fare, has been awarded €4,000 in damages at the Circuit Civil Court.
Judge Elma Sheahan said bus inspector David Byrne had been reckless and had used an unwarranted tone and words towards Kamel Bouazza, who claimed he was defamed after being ordered off the 747 airport bus even though his family rambler ticket was valid.
Mr Bouazza said he was on holiday in Dublin with his young family two years ago and used a Leap Card to get around. He said the four-day family ticket entitled them to unlimited travel around Dublin.
When they boarded the bus after a day in the city centre, he had successfully scanned his Leap Card and the family were on their way upstairs when the driver, Xin He, said, "Come here" and asked him to place the card on his reader again.
Mr Bouazza said that, as the light had flashed green again, the family proceeded upstairs, but the driver kept saying, "This is not right".
Judge Sheahan heard that Mr Byrne later approached them and said, in front of other passengers: "This is a private bus and everybody has paid €7. Get out." Dublin Bus denied this.
Mr Bouazza claimed the inspector had taken his Leap Card and had gone downstairs before returning with it and telling him: "Carry on." The court heard that Mr Bouazza had followed him downstairs and asked both him and the driver, who had been "laughing in his face", for an apology.
Mr Bouazza told Dublin Bus's solicitor that he and his family had felt embarrassed and ashamed and the company had ruined his holiday. "Ireland is now a nightmare for us because of you," he said.
Eoin Perth, a fellow passenger who gave evidence on behalf of Mr Bouazza, said the inspector was confrontational and accusatory and used an inappropriate tone.
Mr Byrne denied having been accusatory and claimed it was Mr Bouazza who had been very defensive and aggressive. The driver denied having laughed in Mr Bouazza's face and claimed he had felt very intimidated.
Mr Bouazza had claimed damages of up to €75,000. The judge awarded him €4,000 and his legal costs.