3 mill. euros Irish jury award for patient misdiagnosed as psychotic & sectioned

This judgement sets down a valuable legal precedent for those of us with EHS who have been misdiagnosed, shunted into psychiatric facilities and ordered onto inappropriate anti-psychotic medication. Even finding a lawyer to bring a case like this to court is a feat in itself, and then not only for the plaintiff, John Manweiller, to win such a difficult case but to have the horrendous nature of the injustice done to him underscored by granting the plaintiff the highest ever Irish jury award is stunning!

I am one of the many who have been misdiagnosed in a similar fashion but my pleas in Ireland for legal help to bring my case to court here were refused by (among others) the Irish Legal Aid Board and The Irish Human Rights Commission. But with this judgement and the obvious relaxation of time limit for the plaintiff (statue of limitations on medical cases is normally three years) things look far brighter now for similar cases having a happy court outcome.

You have archived a number of postings I've sent you on EHS and misdiagnosis as psychosis. In case the information in some of these postings might in any way help other EHS sufferers who have undergone a similar fate and now wish to consider legal action, here is a selection of them:

Citizens Initiative Omega (C.I.O.) 15/9/02: "Another tragic misdiagnosis of an EHS sufferer who has been locked up and forcibly medicated"

C.I.O. 19/9/02 "EMF and Schizophrenia"

C.I.O. 5/7/03 "Human Rights violations applicable to EHS misdiagnosis"

C.I.O. 11/7/03 "Visual demo of effects when EHS is misdiagnosed as psychosis"

C.I.O. 13/12/03 "Amnesty 2004 Campaign for the Human Rights of EHS sufferers"

I am also including today a copy of my appeal letter for legal support to the Irish Human Rights Commission in August 03 (my appeal was unsuccessful) as it points up how similar the bases of this court case is with my own. In both instances standard/proper medical procedures were not adhered to. However, I did not include the full horror of medical carelessness in my appeal letter. I omitted that my prior permission was not sought nor was I advised as to the side effects, etc of anti-psychotic medication. Furthermore, even the writing out of this prescription was badly messed up (the combination was wrong) by a doctor and over succeeding months I was turned into a dribbling, shuffling totally demoralised person who could barely think straight and with frozen shoulders which necessitated seeking the help of a private therapist! And yet I was refused all legal redress! Let's just hope we will now see many EHS sufferers who were subjected to similar medical interventions taking their cases to the courts.

MY APPEAL LETTER OF August 12, 2003.


Mr. Des Hogan, Senior Caseworker
Irish Human Rights Commission
17-19 Lower Hatch St., Dublin 2.

August 12, 2003

Dear Mr. Hogan:

This is my formal appeal letter to the negative decision of the Commission's Casework Committee as stated in your letter to me dated 16 July 2003.

I wish the committee to review their decision based on the following reasons:

1. The first reason cited for refusing my request was this: "no human right appears to have been violated insofar as the condition cited ("electromagnetic sensitivity" or "electromagnetic hypersensitivity") is not at present recognised nationally or internationally in medical or legal terms, so as to bring it within the relevant national or international human rights standards".

But the committee ignored in their response to me all the human rights violations in my case that occurred which were apart from ES/EHS. I enumerated these in length in my email to you of July 4, 2003, and you informed me in your letter dated 7 August 2003 that the committee were given copies of the Human Rights violations that I enumerated. Yet, the committee omitted any reference to these. I now request the committee to respond to me regarding the specific violations I present in my emailed account of these of July 4, 2003.

2. The second reason cited for refusal is the committee's belief that my case would not be successful. But this is premised on the fact that ES/EHS has not been formally acknowledged in medical or legal terms. If it were premised on facts I stressed while writing up my list of Human Rights violations that arise in my case, then there could be a far stronger chance of my case being successful.

I believe this to be true because it is widely reported that the Human Rights of patients in mental health care have been shockingly abused. Given that generally acknowledged fact, the abuses I enumerate that I have experienced arise from a context that is known to harbour such abuses. Various governmental, medical and Human Rights organisations (for instance Amnesty International's campaign for 2003) are engaged in reform measures to correct abuses to the Human Rights of patients who have been or are in psychiatric care. It is regrettable that as yet medical misdiagnosis does not feature prominently in their lists for reforms in this area because there is a strong likelihood that given the apparent legal lacuna many patients may have been misdiagnosed. If my individual action which seeks an acknowledgement of wrongdoing in this area--medical misdiagnosis of mental illness--is successful it most likely will benefit a group whose medical experiences are similar to mine. (As Lord Laird of Artigarvan expressed it in yesterday's The Irish Times, p. 14: "Human rights are enjoyed by individuals and a group may collectively benefit.") Please refer to the article "Group set up to prepare new policy on mental health" that appeared in The Irish Times last week (Tuesday, August 5, 2003, p.5)

3. I am now submitting to you new material that highlights that the medical diagnostic process for arriving at a valid conclusion regards my condition was drastically circumvented when I first presented with symptoms in December 1996. In other words standard medical procedures were not adhered to in my case. I wish the committee to refer to the sections relating to diagnostic procedures for establishing the presence of specific mental illnesses as presented by the authors, Patricia Casey and Ciaran Craven in PSYCHIATRY AND THE LAW (1999). Then I wish the committee to refer to my medical file and observe major irregularities in adherence to standard procedures.

Most importantly I wish the committee to be aware that I was not interviewed and my case history was acquired from a relative (a sister) who lived in a different country from me and who had lived a totally different life style. She is a former nun who has lived most of her life secluded in a convent and has been solely domiciled in Ireland. As pointed out in PSYCHIATRY AND THE LAW: "Interestingly, little scientific attention has been directed to establishing the reliability of informants or to identifying those informants who are most reliable." (page 30.)

The authors of the cited text above also describe in quite some detail "The Psychiatric Interview." (31 ff.)I was not interviewed. My consent to allow an informant to be interviewed was not sought. And there was no question of me not being lucid nor incapable of being interviewed. Please refer to footnote 16, page 31 which addresses exceptions to the necessity of requiring a patient's consent. These exceptions did not arise in my case. The G.P. who wrote the note for me to be accepted into psychiatric care did not interview me. I was less than five minutes in her office. Indeed, she didn't even offer me a seat in her office and she was already writing the note as I entered the room based on the prior information of an informant. I stress again that no standard procedures were adhered to in my case.

And the result for me of this waiving of medical standard procedures and being placed on a medical misdiagnostic belt that I couldn't get off is that I am permanently defined as a "former mental patient."

You should be aware that this is the most damaging identity a person could have. Even the fact that I am now focused on legal action to rectify this injustice may be viewed by mental health specialists as symptomatic of mental illness! Being litigious is a characteristic of such people, they say!

I ask members of the committee how they would feel if they had walked in my shoes and this had been done to them in the name of medical care? And what would each of them feel while reading this newspaper caption "Former mental patient takes legal action." Would they not squirm seeing how they were being defined and knowing what being "a former mental patient" conveys?

It is not an exaggeration to say that what has been done to me is equivalent to the very worst libel and due to this medical error I have been doomed to a quality of life that is socially and in many other ways a death-sentence.

I hope the committee will consider what I have said above and I look forward to their response.


Imelda O'Connor, Ph.D.



A High Court jury has awarded record damages of almost 3 million [euros] to a Dublin man, after it found he was unlawfully detained in a psychiatric hospital and had continued taking a treatment drug because a doctor threatened to lock him up if he failed to do so.

The award is the highest made by a High Court jury and comes after a 1.7 [euros] million award made earlier this month to a woman who was sexually and physically abused by her father over a number of

John Manweiller (64), Rosemount Court, Dundrum, and formerly of Cross Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, was awarded 2,922,000 and costs - estimated at a total of 400,000 [euros] for both sides - at the close of his successful action against the Eastern Health Board.

Mr Manweiller alleged he was unlawfully detained in St Brendan's Hospital, Grangegorman, from September until December 1984 and also for a time in November 1991.

It is also claimed he was forced to take a drug named Clopixol when discharged from hospital, which he did not want to take.

After the jury members returned with their verdict yesterday evening following an absence of more than three hours, Mr Manweiller said: "I was always confident that I had a good case." He added that he got some of the information for his case under the freedom of Information Act.

Mr Justice Eamon de Valera said there should be a payout of 250,000 [euros] to Mr Manweiller, pending an appeal by the EHB to the Supreme Court.

In his claim, Mr Manweiller sought damages for alleged personal injury, loss and damage sustained by him arising out of the negligence and breach of duty of the EHB, its servants or agents, and for trespass to his person, assault, battery, false imprisonment and breach of his constitutional rights, in particular his right to liberty. The EHB denied the claims.

Mr Justice de Valera and the jury were told by John Rogers SC, with Padraic Dwyer, for Mr Manweiller, that in 1984 his client was living at home with his parents in Cross Avenue. He became upset about his father's will and felt he was not told enough about it. In September 1984 he was sorting tools and asked his mother, then aged 83, about missing tools. She said she knew nothing about them. He raised his voice, and she cried. She left the house to go to his sister, Pauline. Pauline and a brother, Colm, arrived at the house and told him he had to go to St Brendan's [Dublin's best known psychiatric hospital].

Mr Manweiller was driven to hospital and ended up being there until December 14th, 1984. In December a doctor noted he was to get Clopixol, a psychotic drug. The following month he was given Clopixol, to which he had a reaction, and was given another drug to counteract it. Mr Rogers and Mr Manweiller's case was that he should never had been in hospital. There was no legal authority for his being there and the way he was treated. He was on Clopixol for years. In March 1991 he was transferred to a clinic in Baggot Street for treatment, but in November was readmitted to St Brendan's for nearly a month. In 1993 he was moved to a clinic in Cork Street. In October 1994 he was told he was to be taken off Clopixol and was weaned off it.

In their decision yesterday, the members of the jury found that a consultant, Dr Harry Burke, now retired, did not have "good and sufficient reason" to consider it proper to detain Mr Manweiller on September 27th, 1984. The jury also decided that Dr Burke was negligent in prescribing Clopixol for Mr Manweiller on December 4th, 1984, and that Dr Burke and other doctors were negligent in continuing the Clopixol treatment until december 1995.

The jury also found that Dr. Burke threatened to have Mr Manweiller locked up in a unit at St Brendan's if he failed to continue on Clopixol, and Mr Manweiller had submitted to that treatment solely because of the threat.

In addition the jury found that the EHB, its servants or agents, had aggravagted the injury to Mr Manweiller by the manner in which the board conducted its defence of the action."

The two other main Irish daily broadheets--IRISH INDEPENDENT and IRISH EXAMINER also carried the story in today's editions.

Omega see also:

Man gets €3m over psychiatric detention


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