Wednesday 20 November 2019

Woman settles €40,000 case against HSE over Facebook posts by son's foster family


Tim Healy

A woman has settled an action over Facebook postings by foster parents after her son had been placed in foster care more than three years ago.

The woman settled for €40,000 High Court defamation proceedings brought by her, and breach of privacy proceedings brought by her and on behalf of her son, against the HSE.

It was alleged the foster parents had defamed her via Facebook postings while the boy, who is back in the mother's care, alleged both the mother and the child's privacy had been breached arising out of the same posts.

It was claimed the HSE had been negligent because it failed to ensure the foster parents received adequate or any training in regards to the use of social media, or in relation to the entitlement to privacy.

It was also claimed the HSE failed to have a policy for foster parents on the use of social media websites.

It was claimed that just over four years ago the child was subject to care orders made by the District Court and was placed by the HSE in the care of foster parents.

It was claimed the foster parents put up a number of posts, including pictures of the child, on Facebook in early 2012.  It was claimed the posts contained statements that were false, untrue and highly defamatory of the child's mother.

The pictures and the information contained in the posts should never have been put up on social media, it was claimed.

The posts, it was further claimed, amounted to a breached of privacy, confidence and statutory duty by the HSE.  She claimed that as a result of the posts she had been subject to ridicule and contempt. Her character had been damaged, she claimed.

The case came before Mr Justice Kevin Cross who approved the settlement.

Counsel for the woman and child said the settlement of €40,000, exclusive of legal costs, was "a global offer" in relation to the claims brought against the HSE by both his clients.

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