herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Gran wins €7,500 compo for needle injury at charity shelter

Joan O'Leary was injured
Joan O'Leary was injured

A former resident of the Salvation Army's Granby Lifehouse for homeless people has been awarded damages, arising from a needlestick injury, against the charitable trust.

Joan O'Leary (58), now of St Peter's Court, Phibsborough, Dublin, said a needle and syringe stuck in her hand while she was cleaning her bedsit.

The grandmother told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that she injured herself while cleaning a leather chair in her apartment at the shelter.

"I had been using baby-wipes to clean the chair and put my hand down the left-hand crevice in the chair where I found charred tinfoil and condoms."

She found the same items on the right-hand side of the chair.

"Then I felt a stab and pulled my hand out. A needle, with a syringe attached, was sticking in the palm of my hand so I covered my hand and the syringe with tissue paper and went down to reception to report it."

Ms O'Leary said staff called an ambulance and she was taken to the Mater Hospital. When the ambulance had first arrived the needle and syringe was removed from her hand and she was given an injection and blood test before being taken to accident and emergency.

Infectious

Ms O'Leary said she had panicked because she knew the previous occupant of her bedsit had been a heroin addict.

"I received the all-clear from the hospital about a month after the incident but I didn't believe them. I felt I was still at risk of contracting an infectious disease," she said.

Ms O'Leary sued The Salvation Army (Republic of Ireland) which has its registered office in Marlborough Street, Dublin and was the owner and operator of The Granby Care Centre.

Judge Raymond Groarke, awarding her €7,500 damages and court costs, said there was no contest in the case.

"I find the plaintiff's account an entirely probable explanation of what occurred and I believe what she has said," the judge added.

Judge Groarke said he accepted there was an onerous obligation of care on the occupier that had not been met in this particular case and he was sorry to have to say that, given the most excellent work done by the Salvation Army.

He said Ms O'Leary was a somewhat vulnerable lady with a lot of problems in her life and had not believed the advice of medical experts when given the all clear.

She had a job convincing herself and her perception, while erroneous, was a genuine one.

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