The Court of Appeal has upheld the right of a man suing convicted child molester Michael Shine and a religious order to have his action heard by a jury.
The decision is believed to pave the way for more than 100 other cases to be tried in a similar manner.
The man says he was sexually abused by the struck-off doctor in 1975. He is suing Shine (87) and the Medical Missionaries of Mary, who ran Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth.
The case is one of 112 damages claims faced by the defendants, involving allegations dating from 1964 and 1995. The claimants, represented by Dublin law firm Galligan Johnston, have argued the congregation is vicariously liable for Shine's actions.
A key sticking point in pre-trial hearings has been the manner in which cases will be heard. Alleged victims of Shine have been pushing for their lawsuits to be heard by a judge and jury, but this was objected to by the order.
A change in the law in 1988 limited the scenarios in which a civil trial can be tried in front of a judge and jury, but it allowed for certain exceptions.
In a ruling on behalf of the Court of Appeal, Ms Justice Marie Baker upheld an earlier High Court decision allowing the case go to a judge and jury.
Liability has not been accepted by Shine or the order, which denies it employed him in the hospital and also denied the events complained of happened on hospital premises or in a part of the hospital under its control or supervision.
The HSE was originally a third defendant in the cases, but actions against it were settled in December without any admission of liability.