Friday 2 December 2016

Social care worker awarded €38k after he broke knee chasing runaway teen

Saurya Cherfi

Published 12/02/2016 | 12:29

Joseph Kavanagh (54), of Killyon, Longwood, Enfield, Co Meath, at court where he settled his damages claim against the HSE. PIC: COURTPIX
Joseph Kavanagh (54), of Killyon, Longwood, Enfield, Co Meath, at court where he settled his damages claim against the HSE. PIC: COURTPIX

A 54-year-old social care worker, who broke his left knee while chasing a teenager who had run off, has settled a €38,000 damages claim against the HSE in the Circuit Civil Court.

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Joseph Kavanagh told the court that in June 2009, he was working in a Special Care Residential Unit for young people with behavioural problems.

Kavanagh told his barrister, Mairead Smith, that he had accompanied the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, to a family access visit outside the unit.  The teenager had become agitated and abusive after the visit and he later ran off.

Kavanagh said he had been running after the teenager when he twisted his knee and fell. An X-ray had later revealed a fracture in his knee which had required surgery. 

Judge Francis Comerford heard that Kavanagh suffered ongoing discomfort and pain in his knee, interfering with his daily activities. The injury had left a four centimetre scar. He sued the HSE, which had denied liability, for negligence.

Kavanagh, with an address at Killyon, Longwood, Enfield, Co Meath, claimed his employer had failed to carry out proper risk assessment before allowing the teenager to go to the family visit.

Ms Smith, who appeared with L. C. O’Reilly Timmins solicitors, said her client claimed the teenager had already been agitated earlier that day and therefore another member of staff should have accompanied them.

The HSE, which had delivered a full defence to Kavanagh’s claim, alleged its employee had been guilty of contributory negligence.

After Kavanagh’s evidence and a short adjournment, Ms Smith told Judge Comerford that following talks between the parties, the matter had settled and liability had been agreed on a 50/50 basis.

Judge Comerford struck out the case and awarded Kavanagh his legal costs. No details of the financial settlement were disclosed to the court.

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