A nurse from Sangre Grande, suffering from a rare autoimmune disease has been granted permission to sue the Ministry of Social Development and Family Affairs and the Central Public Assistance Board over refusing to grant her a disability assistance grant.
High Court Judge Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell yesterday granted Ruth Peters leave to pursue her judicial review against as the ministry and State board after ruling that she had a valid case with a realistic prospect of success.
According to her court filings, Peters, who last worked at the Sangre Grande District Hospital, was diagnosed with Gillian-Barre syndrome in July, last year.
She was assessed as being 90 per cent disabled and could no longer work to support her two children, ages six and nine.
In October, last year, Peters' father went to the Sangre Grande Welfare Office to apply for a grant for his daughter.
After waiting several months, Peters was then informed that she did not qualify as she was not permanently disabled.
In her lawsuit, Peters' lawyers are contending that the ministry and the board's policy was not consistent with the Public Assistance Act.
According to Section 11 of the legislation, a person is entitled to apply for the grant if they are certified to be so disabled that they can not earn a livelihood.
"The mandatory requirement for permanence is not contemplated by the said act and its imposition in the criteria is not in keeping with the said act," Peters' lawyers stated, in their application for leave to pursue the case.
Peters is seeking an order compelling the ministry and board to approve her grant and to adjust its policy to reflect her lawyers' interpretation of the legislation.
Peters' lawyers will now have to file the lawsuit before they get a date for the first hearing of the case.
Peters is being represented by Jagdeo Singh, Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon and Rhea Khan.
About Gillian-Barre syndrome
Gillian-Barre syndrome is rapid-onset muscle weakness caused when the immune system mistakenly attacks the peripheral nervous system (nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord).
Symptoms include changes in sensation, pain and muscle weakness starting in the hands and feet. It affects approximately one or two persons in every 100,000.
Those afflicted with the syndrome can recover over several years with treatment.
One third are left with permanent weakness.
Reporter: Derek Achong