Pet Nelson spared as pizza man loses bite claim
A DUBLIN couple feared their beloved dog could be put down after a pizza delivery driver sued them -- claiming he was bitten by the dog while delivering leaflets to their home.
A pizza delivery driver sued Vincent and Bernie Fitzgerald, of Portobello, Dublin, and Deano Foods Ltd, trading as Apache Pizza, Dame Street, for €38,000 damages.
He told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Matthew Deery that on October 19, 2009, he had called to the Fitzgeralds' home and approached the house through the front garden to push flyers into the letter box.
However, his claim against both defendants was dismissed by the court. The delivery man of Corn Exchange, Poolbeg Street, Dublin, said he had just put his hand through the letterbox when he heard a loud bark and felt his fingers being snapped and pulled through the letter box.
He felt an immediate pain to his finger and noticed he was bleeding. He told barrister Philip Fennell, counsel for the Fitzgeralds, that he had not heard any dog barking as he approached the front door and had not seen any signs warning of a dog.
Bernie Fitzgerald said that her biggest worry over the past three years had been that their beloved eight-year-old Alsation Nelson could be put down. "Over my dead body would I have allowed him to be put down.I would never have allowed that to happen," she said.
"We got Nelson about eight years ago from the ISPCA when he was a puppy and he was skin and bone at the time. He's called after Nelson Mandela, because we were in South Africa shortly before we got him.
"He's my little baby boy," she said. "It's been three years of unbelievable stress for me and my husband. He was looking for a lot of money. As a result of this case taken against us our home insurance went up quite dramatically."
During the case in the Civil Court, the delivery man denied in cross-examination by Mr Fennell that he may have injured his hand when he pulled his fingers quickly out of the letter box after having heard the dog growl or bark.
Medical reports revealed that the man had suffered an injury to the ring finger of his right hand that required stitching.
The cut had gone through to the finger pulp and he had been referred to hospital for dressing of his finger and fingernail and to receive a tetanus vaccine.
Vincent Fitzgerald said he was working in a room above the front door that day and was not aware of any incident. He had not heard anyone knocking. Bernie Fitzgerald was with her husband in court but did not give evidence.
Judge Deery, dismissing the claim against both defendants, said that in the case of Apache Pizza, the delivery man had been acting as an independent contractor.
On the case against the Fitzgeralds, he said the delivery had no legal permission to put his hand through the letterbox and he was not satisfied the incident had happened as outlined by him.