Nurse fails with €60,000 claim after punch by care resident
An agency nurse who alleged she had been violently assaulted by a community care home resident has lost a €60,000 damages claim.
Mary Lawal said the home had been negligent and in breach of a duty of care to her.
The 42-year-old mother of five, formerly of Rosse Court, Lucan, Co Dublin, told the Circuit Civil Court she had been punched in the chest by the resident after she had challenged him taking a break outside only minutes after he had just had one.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard that Ms Lawal, now living in Manchester, had not worked since the incident in January 2015 and was pursuing a €48,000 loss of earnings claim.
Ms Lawal sued Cheeverstown House Limited, Templeogue, Dublin, and NocLimited, which trades as NursesOnCall, an approved Irish nurses and care agency. She said that when she reported for duty at Cheeverstown House just under four years ago she had relieved another care assistant.
The patient's care plan allowed him specific breaks outside his residence at Cheeverstown and she was aware he had just had one on her arrival.
Ms Lawal told barrister Adrianne Fields, who appeared with Peig Lenehan of Newman Solicitors for the defendants, that when she said she was going to report him he had gone outside and kicked her car. She followed him outside where he punched her violently in the chest, she said.
She told Ms Fields she had been taken to hospital by a member of Cheeverstown House staff where an X-ray revealed she had a "crack" in her chest bone. She later agreed with Ms Fields that medical reports made no reference to a crack or fracture in her sternum.
Ms Lawal agreed with Ms Fields that she had not divulged a previous road traffic accident in which she had suffered a chest injury and for which she had received just under €15,000 damages. She said it had occurred in 2008 and she must have forgotten about it.
Judge Linnane said Cheeverstown House provided a service for people who needed support, and Ms Lawal had received training from the staff with regard to behavioural problems some residents might have and how to deal with situations that might arise.
"I don't see that the plaintiff has established negligence in relation to the incident and there seems to be some disunity with regard to her pursuing a claim for loss of earnings of €48,000," Judge Linnane said.
Costs were awarded against Ms Lawal as the judge dismissed the claim.