A 21-year-old mother, who claimed she was defamed when shop staff accused her of stealing a toy rattle for her year old child, has been ordered to pay the legal costs of an unsuccessful claim against Dealz Retailing Ireland and its security firm.
Naomi Sunner’s €75,000 defamation claim was thrown out by Judge Jacqueline Linnane in the Circuit Civil Court. The judge said it followed in such cases that unsuccessful claimants should pay the legal costs of defendants.
“People should be a little bit slower about going to their solicitors when things of this nature are said to them in shops,” the Judge told Sunner, of 86 East Road, East Wall, Dublin 3.
Sunner had sued the Dealz store in Dublin’s Talbot Street and security firm Lodge Service (Dublin) Ltd, Canal Road, Rathmines, who had allegedly told her “we seen you steal the toy” during a shopping trip in March 2017.
The court heard Ms Sunner had been seen taking the rattle from a shelf and giving it to her child. After she and her child had left the shop the rattle had been found on another shelf.
Frank Martin, counsel for the defendants, told the court the incident had been noticed by security staff and when asked if she intended to pay for the toy she had denied having taken it.
Mr Martin, who appeared with Mary Byrne of O’Brien Lynam Solicitors, told Judge Linnane the defendants denied each and every particular of the defamation and alleged false imprisonment claims made by Ms Sunner.
He said that insofar as any such words had been spoken by the defendants or their agents they relied on qualified privilege in having made inquiries of the plaintiff about the toy.
Dismissing Ms Sunner’s claim with costs Judge Linnane said the court had not been satisfied she had established any case of having been defamed. The judge said she had been the author of her own misfortune by having given the rattle to the child in the first place.
She said people should stop running to their solicitors.