Disabled woman awarded €40,000 over alleged assault at treatment centre

Four Courts, Dublin

9 November 2018

A woman with physical and intellectual disabilities and terminal cancer has secured a €40,000 settlement over an alleged assault on her by a nurse at a centre for women with intellectual disabilities.

The settlement was made without admission of liability.

Linda Kavanagh’s family only learned in 2015 of the alleged assault on her by a nurse in 1999, the High Court heard. Through her sister. Noeleen Kavanagh, Cherrywood Park, Clondalkin, Linda Kavanagh (51) sued the board of management of St Margaret’s Centre, Brookvale Road, Donnybrook; the Sisters of Charity, owner of the centre; and Careen Cunningham, a nurse whose name was removed from the register of nurses and midwives in 2009.

Ms Kavanagh has physical and intellectual disabilities secondary to spina bfida and cerebral palsy and became a resident of the centre in 1996. It was claimed when her sister asked her in February 2015 how she was getting on at the centre, she said she was very unhappy and hated it.

Asked why, she said she had been physically assaulted by Ms Cunningham and hit on the head.

She also told her sister, after she fell out of bed on to the floor one time, she asked Ms Cunningham to help her get back into bed but the nurse refused to help her and also prevented another member of staff doing so with the effect she had to remain on the floor until she managed to clamber back into bed herself.

Verbal Abuse

Ms Kavanagh also indicated Ms Cunningham had been verbally abusive to her, “roaring” and giving out to her and telling her to go to her room and not to leave it, it was claimed.

It was claimed the family had noticed a deterioration in Ms Kavanagh’s behaviour after her admission to the centre, her appearance seemed neglected and she was soiling herself. It was claimed they raised the issue of her behaviour and were reassured by the centre’s manager.


Mr Justice Cross approved the settlement and also approved it being paid out to Noeleen Kavanagh to ensure Linda has as much comfort as possible in her declining state. Outside court, Noeleen Kavanagh thanked her sister’s lawyers for their “trojan work”.

Source: Irish Times

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