The proposed settlement of a claim against the Giraffe Crèche has been refused by a judge on the basis that it is inappropriate for the level of alleged injury.
In 2011, Emilie Kiely started attending the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre in Stepaside, Dublin when she was eight months old. The following September, Emilie started exhibiting signs of anxiety as she was being prepared to go to the crèche – a change in behaviour which coincided with a move to the “Toddlers Room”.
In May 2013, the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre was one of three crèches exposed by the Prime Time documentary “A Breach of Trust” for alleged child abuse. Emilie´s parents reacted to seeing one of their daughter´s minders screaming at children by withdrawing Emilie from the crèche.
Emilie´s father – John Kiely from Sandyford in Dublin – sought legal advice and subsequently made a claim against the Giraffe Crèche on his daughter´s behalf. In his legal action John claimed that Emilie had suffered stress, emotional upset and terror due to the verbal and physical abuse she had suffered at the crèche.
The owners of the childcare facility contested the claim against the Giraffe Crèche, but made an offer of €15,000 compensation without an admission of liability. As the offer of compensation was in settlement of a claim brought on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Emilie´s best interests before it could be accepted.
At the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Judge James O´Donohue heard that Emilie would cry “No crèche! No crèche!” before going to the childcare facility and was clearly scared of attending the Giraffe Crèche. The judge ruled that the proposed settlement of the claim against the Giraffe Crèche was inappropriate for the level of injury that it was claimed Emilie had suffered.
Judge O´Donohue said that it would be in Emilie´s best interests if the claim against the Giraffe Crèche was heard by another judge at a full hearing. The judge´s decision has implications for up to twenty-five other claims for compensation that have been made against the crèches featured in the Prime Time documentary.