A Northern Ireland couple who suffered mental anguish after their 12-year-old daughter’s arm was pricked by a pin in a hotel bed in the Republic have been awarded €18,000 damages.
Robert and Gillian Kane, of Robb’s Road, Dundonald, Co Antrim told a judge about the nightmare of not knowing for weeks whether daughter Amy’s skin had been punctured by a possibly infected hypodermic needle in the Travelodge Hotel, Castleknock, Co Dublin, in June 2009.
Judge Matthew Deery, in awarding them €9,000 each against Smorgs Limited, which trades as The Travelodge Group, said the needle turned out to be nothing more than a pin from a brooch or some other piece of jewellery but the Kanes were not to know that at the time.
He said they had been attending a function in Dublin connected with their Methodist Church and had returned to the Travelodge Hotel to find the foyer filled with young people, who had been at a festival, drinking alcohol. They had retired with friends to their rooms when the pin incident occurred.
Judge Deery said he accepted the couple had suffered a “mental adjustment disorder” as a result of what they had gone through afterwards, having to take Amy to hospital and a genitor-urinary medical clinic for AIDS-associated infections and syphilis tests.
He said Mr Kane had difficulty in getting the Travelodge hotel and its insurers to send on the needle to a consultant at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, where it had been clarified it was not a hollow hypodermic needle.
The judge said the Kanes, who had a strong affinity to their church, had suffered the embarrassment of meeting members of their congregation at the GUM clinic and had to explain to them why they were there in case word might go out and reputations be damaged.
They, and Amy, had been exposed to large warning notices on the wall about the dangers of venereal disease and drugs. They also had to fill out a questionnaire as to their 12-year-old daughters partners might have been.
Judge Deery said Amy had a life-long phobia about needles and her mother had to hold her down while blood tests were taken and injections were given. It was three months before her tests had been returned clear. Mrs Kane had worried about future questionnaires Amy would have to fill out in life about whether she had ever been tested for AIDS.
He told barrister Miriam Reilly, counsel for the Kanes, that her clients had suffered a severe psychological response to what they had to put their daughter through. Ms Reilly said legal proceedings on behalf of Amy had already been settled for €17,500.
Judge Deery said the parents had found themselves in a situation which was, to a degree for any parent, terrifying and which had led to a chain of events that was inevitable.
Tom Clarke, counsel for the defendant, was granted a stay on the court’s finding on the basis liability had been fully in dispute and would be appealed.
Source Irish Independent