The country's largest disability support service is pursuing a profoundly disabled teenage boy on an invalid's benefit for $33,500 in court costs, despite being found in breach of his rights.

IDEA Services breached Eamon Marshall's right to his personal health information by withholding critical documents for up to 22 weeks, according to a Human Rights Review Tribunal decision released in May.

It also breached his right to services of an appropriate standard.

The tribunal, however, ruled in favour of the provider when it came to a complaint over a separate request for redacted emails.

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The first withheld documents were part of health information requested by Eamon's parents Glenn and Fran Marshall and showed failings by the service in its oversight of their son's care.

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Eamon, now 17, was born with tuberous sclerosis, cerebral palsy, severe epilepsy, visual impairment and intellectual disability.

He was raised by foster parents from a young age because of his high and complex needs.

In November 2015 the Marshalls, from Napier, complained to IDEA Services - part of the IHC Group - that Eamon was being neglected and an investigation was launched.

The couple also complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner, who separately said that IDEA Services staff deliberately removed information from the investigation report to minimise the significance of its findings.

In its first decision the Human Rights Review Tribunal found IDEA Services interfered with Eamon's privacy by failing to supply the requested information without undue delay.

The documents included a health adviser's report and several file notes. The health adviser's audit into Eamon's epilepsy medication management detailed major failings by IDEA Services.

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These included that Eamon's seizure medication was not being administered correctly, his medication folder was not correctly maintained and medication was signed for in error.

Glenn and Fran Marshall with son Eamon outside Napier District Court. The couple say there is no justice for the disabled and vulnerable in New Zealand. Photo / Warren Buckland
Glenn and Fran Marshall with son Eamon outside Napier District Court. The couple say there is no justice for the disabled and vulnerable in New Zealand. Photo / Warren Buckland

IDEA Services' investigation also found Eamon was being fed unsuitable food, that IDEA Services had missed nine monthly visits to his home in a two-year period and was failing to engage with Eamon's school.

But the full report was omitted from an investigation summary given to the Marshalls and not released to the couple until they made multiple requests for Eamon's health information in 2016.

The omitted file notes related to statements made by Eamon's foster father and school holiday programme workers to IDEA Services staff.

They included that it was sometimes unclear if Eamon had been fed at home, that his pills were found down the side of his wheelchair and that the wheelchair was stained with food and smelt of urine.

Glenn Marshall made a claim of $300,000 in damages from the tribunal for Eamon's lost dignity.

But the tribunal dismissed the claim and said the late provision of the information by IDEA Services did not violate Eamon's right to equality.

"Eamon's dignity has not been diminished at all by the failure to provide information in a timelier fashion."

The tribunal also poured cold water on Marshall's claims of a "cover-up" and accepted that the documents were not intentionally withheld.

It also acknowledged the "numerous" apologies IDEA Services had made to the Marshalls and noted several attempts by the disability support provider to engage with the couple, who preferred to let the HDC complaint process take its course.

Members of the Human Rights Review Tribunal in Napier during the hearing against IDEA Services in December brought by the Marshall family. Photo / Warren Buckland
Members of the Human Rights Review Tribunal in Napier during the hearing against IDEA Services in December brought by the Marshall family. Photo / Warren Buckland

The tribunal also dismissed Marshall's claim that IDEA Services had breached Rule 8 of the Health Information Privacy Code, which places restrictions on how people and organisations can use or disclose health information.

In separate claims it accepted IDEA Services had failed to provide Eamon with services of an appropriate standard but ruled that redacted sentences in two internal staff emails were not Eamon's health information and should not be released to the Marshalls.

This was despite an earlier ruling from the Privacy Commissioner that it was Eamon's personal information.

The tribunal also dismissed the claim for damages against IDEA Services for not providing care with reasonable skill because "the breaches were not of sufficient seriousness".

Because each party had some success in the tribunal, both were eligible to claim for costs although because Marshall was a layperson representing his son, he can only claim for disbursements such as photocopying.

IDEA Services however, which received $274 million in Government funding last year, can claim for legal costs and has applied for $33,505.40 across the three claims, from Eamon Marshall.

Glenn Marshall said his son did not have that kind of money.

IDEA Services said it was unable to comment because the matter of costs was still before the Human Rights Review Tribunal.