Pharmacy sued over pregnancy test sale

A woman who claimed a pharmacy allowed her husband watch CCTV footage of her buying a pregnancy test kit has settled a €38,000 damages claim against the pharmacy for an undisclosed sum in the Circuit Civil Court.

The woman, who cannot be named by order of the judge, said her marriage had been highly dysfunctional and difficult for a number of years before the October 2010 incident, which had worsened her relationship with her now deceased husband.

She told her barrister, Martina O’Neill, she had bought the pregnancy test for a friend but her husband found the purchase receipt at home and had gone to the pharmacy with it.

The court heard the husband was possessive and had an abusive and violent behaviour towards his wife. When he arrived at the pharmacy, he pretended to be distressed and had “tricked” one of the employees into showing him CCTV footage of the purchase.

The husband told the employee he had found the receipt in his teenage daughter’s bedroom waste bin and was seriously concerned she was sexually active. This had been why he asked to be shown CCTV footage.

Asked by Shane English, counsel for the pharmacy, if her husband could have played “a low trick” on the employee, the woman said he could.

Mr English told the court the pharmacy assistant was concerned for the wellbeing of the man’s daughter and, due to his agitated state, had shown him CCTV footage of a woman buying the test.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the husband had secretly taken pictures of the CCTV footage with his mobile phone.

The woman said her husband had sent her, on her phone, a picture of her purchasing the pregnancy test. She had been scared about going home as she knew he would use it as an excuse for a row. The woman told Judge Groarke that her husband and she had separated on and off. He had been physically and mentally abusive towards her. Gardaí had to intervene several times after being called by the couple’s children.

The woman said she had complained to the then data protection commissioner, Billy Hawkes, who found there had been a breach of the data protection laws.

She then sued the pharmacy under the Data Protection Act for negligence and breach of duty in allowing the footage to be shown to her husband. Mr English told Judge Groarke that if the man had taken photographs of a computer screen, he had done so without the pharmacy’s consent and it fully contested the claim.

Counsel said the Act allowed for personal data to be given to a third party if it was required urgently to protect someone’s health. He said the father had been agitated and distressed.

Following a brief adjournment to allow talks, Ms O’Neill said the matter had resolved. Judge Groarke struck out the case.


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