Month: August 2018

WRC Awards €5k to Autistic Boy Who Was Told not to Eat Toast in his School Taxi

An autistic teenager who was stopped from eating toast in his taxi to school has been awarded €5,000 from Bus Eireann by The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The WRC ruled that the company had discriminated against the 16-year-old on the grounds of his disability. As a result of this Adjudication officer Gerry Rooney ordered Bus Eireann to pay €5,000 to the boy. Additionally he directed the operator to make contact with his family without delay.

It was explained to the WRC, in a submission from the boy’s parents, that their son’s dietary requirements meant that he would eat his breakfast of a slice of toast, a banana and fruit juice in the taxi while travelling to school. They added that any changes in the teen’s routine could cause difficulty and serious issues for his development. Bus Eireann denied that it discriminated against the boy.

Bus Eireann contracted a taxi driver from 2015 to transport him to a special needs school. The routine of the teen eating his breakfast in transit was accommodated without no issue. However, on January 27, 2017, the then taxi driver advised the boy and his family that he was buying a new car worth €60,000 and asked that the boy no longer consumed his toast in it.

When advised of this the boy’s father told the taxi driver that such a change would be very distressing change to his teenager’s routine. At this point the parents’ offered to buy the taxi driver a cordless vacuum cleaner but he (the taxi driver) maintained his opposition despite and told the parent that it was a Bus Eireann policy for pupils not to eat on school transport. He said that this was due to health and safety issues.

In response to this the parents communicated Bus Eireann and were ad ised by an inspector that the taxi driver was being reasonable. The inspector advised the parents that the boy would be affored one week to stop eating the toast in the taxi.

In his findings, Adjudicator for the WRC Mr Rooney said: “There was no evidence provided that when the complainant was being reasonably accommodated previously that any soiling of the taxi occurred, or if soiling had occurred in the past that it presented an unreasonable cost to the taxi driver, or the respondent.”

Thalidomide Compensation Cases Adjourned by High Court until November

The High Court has adjourned, for further case management,  26 personal injury compensation claims in relation to the use of the drug Thalidomide until November 7.

Teh legal actions are being brought against the producers of the drug, German firm Grunenthal GmbH, the Irish distributors, TP Whelehan Son & Co, and also the Ministers for Health and Environment.

The claimed wrongdoing, the High Court was told, dates back to the 1960s. Thalidomide was launched  in Germany in 1957 as a sedative and is alleged to have inflicted deformities on unborn children when it was prescribed to their pregnant mothers. The defendants in the case deny all the claims that the plaintiffs submitted.

The adjournment was issue as it is yet to be determined is whether the cases are statute barred . To date the actions have been case managed on their way to trial over the course of the last few years.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, in hearing the cases on Wednesday, stated that he is unhappy with “the slow pace” of the proceedings. However, Justice Noonan did rule that certain information reagrding particulars of the claims must be provided by the plaintiff to legal counsel for the defendents prior to the November 7 hearing. This is information that the defendants claims they required in order to address the claim being made against them. He added that the plaintiffs had a right to request to discover documents from the State as part of the compensation claims that they are taking.

John Stack, chairman of Thalidomide Ireland, which supports the claims, said the group was pleased to learn that the plaintiffs had a right to discover State documents as part of their case.

He said “Unfortunately, two of our members have not survived to conclude their court actions against the Irish State. Our members are ageing, becoming more decrepit and suffering the adverse effects of their physical deterioration. Our litigation has been the mother of all battles over decades and Thalidomide victims have to keep themselves alive to get justice for both their families and themselves.

“That is fundamentally wrong and shows that the State’s moral compass in respect of catastrophic injury litigation is incorrectly set for the purpose of minimisation of costs rather than doing the correct thing by its injured citizens”.