Shine wants taxpayer to pay legal bills for assault claims
Struck-off consultant faces 75 actions
A STRUCK-OFF hospital consultant facing 75 civil assault claims from former patients wants taxpayers to pick up the tab for his massive legal bill.
Michael Shine has written to Health Minister Mary Harney seeking to be indemnified from scores of claims by former male patients.
He wants protection via the State's Clinical Indemnity Scheme (CIS), which has managed all medical negligence claims since it was set up in 2002. The actions, to be heard before a jury, are being case-managed by the High Court.
More than 20 are being primed to go forward as test cases, which may require a dedicated sitting of the High Court to handle the sample claims.
Mr Shine (78), who is representing himself in some of the legal actions, retired in 1995 on a full pension from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
He was struck off the medical register in 2008 after the Medical Council found he had abused his professional position by making sexual advances toward three patients.
High Court Judge Mr Justice Vivian Lavan was last week told by lawyers for Mr Shine's former patients that it had taken 15 years for him to be struck off and they were anxious for their cases to proceed.
Mr Shine went on record to represent himself in 10 of the actions.
He said he wrote to Ms Harney appealing for help from the CIS because his insurer, the Medical Defence Union, was no longer providing cover for him.
"You will understand that I have got limited funds," he said.
David Coleman, of Lavelle Coleman solicitors, who are representing the bulk of the claimants, said last night he was hopeful the cases could be heard as early as next year.
"A group of up to 25 cases are being prepared and could run back-to-back in a special sitting of the High Court," Mr Coleman said.
Mr Shine worked for more than 30 years in Drogheda.
He was first investigated by gardai in the 1990s. He went on trial at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court in 2003 where he was acquitted by a jury after a trial that lasted nearly three weeks.
After he was struck off, gardai in Drogheda appealed for anyone with complaints to contact them.
The Irish Independent has learned gardai in Drogheda are investigating some 110 complaints from former patients, many aged between 40 and 60.
The vast majority of complainants in the civil actions are male, but the claims also include a small group of females.
Dignity4Patients, which has supported many of the plaintiffs, welcomed the decision by the High Court to case manage the actions.
"People have waited a long time for their cases to come to court," executive director Bernadette Sullivan said.
"We hope that the High Court continues to provide a speedy resolution of the actions," she added.
Separately, the Drogheda Review, a report conducted by Judge TC Smyth, is expected to be handed over to the Department of Health.
The review was established as a response to the call from Dignity4Patients for a full and comprehensive inquiry into the alleged sexual assault of patients by Mr Shine in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and his private consulting rooms.