Patient settles sex-assault case for 'six-figure sum'
A HIGH Court action by a man who claims that he was sexually abused by Dr Michael Shine during a hospital examination 19 years ago was settled yesterday for a "six-figure sum".
More than 100 similar cases against the former doctor are pending and they could take up to 30 years to complete unless some form of management is brought into dealing with them, the court heard.
Ronan MacConnoran (35) sued the 80-year-old former orthopaedic surgeon, the North Eastern Health Board (now the HSE) and a representative of the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth.
It was alleged that in February, 1993, the then 16-year-old Mr MacConnoran attended Dr Shine at the Lourdes Hospital, complaining of neck pain.
Mr McConnoran alleged that during the examination Dr Shine sexually assaulted him.
The case was due to be heard before a jury yesterday when John Gordon SC, for Mr McConnoran, of Ardee Road, Dunleer, Co Louth, told the court that following talks he was happy to say that the matter had now been settled and could be struck out against all defendants, with an order for costs in favour of his client.
The case, which was to be a test for other actions against Dr Shine, got under way on Tuesday, with legal argument over a preliminary matter in the absence of the jury.
On Wednesday, Dr Shine's counsel, Luan O Braonain, said his client called his solicitor on Tuesday night and indicated there was a fear that he had the symptoms of a stroke.
He was admitted to the Mater Hospital, where he was due to undergo tests. The case was then adjourned for a day.
On Thursday, the court heard that he was still awaiting those tests and the case was adjourned again until yesterday, when Mr O Braonain told Mr Justice Eamon de Valera that a neurologist had seen his client but was not happy to let him out of hospital.
However, the expectation was that he would be discharged yesterday afternoon and would be in a position to attend court next Tuesday, counsel added.
Mr Justice de Valera said he was prepared to start the case in the absence of Dr Shine, who could be provided with transcripts of the evidence when he turned up next Tuesday.
However, following an adjournment and talks between the parties, the judge was then told that the matter had been settled. The judge thanked the jury and discharged them.
Afterwards, Mr McConnoran's solicitor, Dave Coleman, said that both he and his client were delighted with the settlement, which was for a "strong six-figure sum".
Asked about the delays that had occurred during the week due to Dr Shine's medical condition, Mr Coleman said everybody had a right of access to the courts and his lawyers did produce some medical evidence with which the court had to deal.
It had, he said, been an extremely stressful time for Mr McConnoran over the course of the last 10 years and again over the last week as he watched the jury come in and out of the courtroom.
Mr Coleman expressed his admiration for the courage and support that his client had received from his family and said he hoped this settlement would assist in similar cases.
He added that it had been indicated to the court that this was a test case and it remained to be seen how the courts would be appraised in relation to the rest of the cases.