A woman was awarded €10,000 damages for defamation, after claiming she was blamed for deliberately putting insects in takeaway meals.
Denise Melia (30), of Lanesborough Court, Finglas, Dublin, sued the local Macari’s Takeaway at Meakstown Shopping Centre.
Ms Melia said she had found the remains of a dead daddy longlegs in one box of food and part of the leg of a daddy longlegs in a second box. Both boxes, bought in the shop on September 29, 2016, contained chips and other items of food.
She alleged in a €75,000 claim for defamation of character that she had become nauseous after starting to eat the foot and finding the insect and insect pieces in the food.
She told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that when she and her then partner, Keith May, returned to Macari’s Takeaway with the food and insects she had been told: “You put that in there yourself.”
Both Ms Melia and her former partner denied she had become aggressive in the takeaway or that Mr May had thrown one box of the food over Constantine Ionas, who had served them earlier.
Counsel for the defendants Benny and Antonia Macari, who trade as Macari’s Takeaway, said it would be the evidence of two staff that Mr May had become aggressive, had been loud and had used bad language.
Mr Ionas, who had dealt with the couple on the night, denied Ms Melia had been accused of having put the daddy longlegs into the boxes. He said Mr May had become aggressive and thrown the food in one box over him.
Judge Groarke said he had seen Mr Ionas smirking in court while Ms Melia was giving her evidence in the witness box. “I saw it,” he said.
Awarding Ms Melia €10,000 damages, Judge Groarke said there was an implication she was fraudulently seeking to set up a claim against the shop.
The judge said he had found Ms Melia to be an impressive and compellingly honest witness. Her partner had become annoyed and angry because Mr Ionas had been sniggering and laughing at him in the shop.
“I saw that in court today while the plaintiff and her former partner were in the witness box,” Judge Groarke said. “I believe the plaintiff’s account of opening the two boxes and finding the insects there.”
The judge said it was something that could happen and did not necessarily require bad management or negligence on the part of the food outlet.
Judge Groarke said he accepted Ms Melia’s evidence that a clearly defamatory observation had been made.