Former disabled residents of Laura Fergusson Trust take the centre to court


Five years ago on Monday, a young Aucklander had a workplace accident leaving her tetraplegic, and now she is taking the place where she was rehabilitated to court after it was sold.

Sophia Malthus, who was paralysed after falling from a horse in 2016, spent nine months living at Laura Fergusson in Auckland and said it was “really sad” it had closed.

Malthus was 19 at the time of the accident, and said if the facility hadn’t existed she would’ve ended up in a rest home.

Last year the rehabilitation centre shut, before it was then sold to make way for apartments.

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At the High Court on Monday, the case will be called for the first time for mention, and also the Laura Fergusson Trust is applying for declaratory relief from the Attorney General.

Paul Dale QC who is acting on behalf of Malthus and others, told Stuff the civil case was about how the Laura Fergusson Trust had deviated from its sole objective.

“When the Laura Fergusson Trust was established it had one object – to provide accommodation and rehabilitation for the disabled.”

Sophia Malthus is taking the Laura Fergusson Trust to court. (File photo)

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

Sophia Malthus is taking the Laura Fergusson Trust to court. (File photo)

He said it will be up to the Court to decided if the Incorporated Society had the right to sell the land and the buildings in deviation from the purpose of the Trust.

Dale said they will also argue the Trust is not entitled to use the proceeds of the sale, other than for this purpose.

Since the Auckland space shut, anyone who has had a life-changing accident like Malthus has been placed in rest homes because there are no specialised rehabilitation facilities in Auckland with a pool, gymnasium and specialist health workers.

The Laura Fergusson trust building in Greenlane, Auckland, was sold earlier this year, upsetting disability advocates as they said there was nowhere else in the city for young disabled people to live apart from rest homes.

Abigail Dougherty/Stuff

The Laura Fergusson trust building in Greenlane, Auckland, was sold earlier this year, upsetting disability advocates as they said there was nowhere else in the city for young disabled people to live apart from rest homes.

Malthus’ aunt Victoria Carter said the centre was built with Auckland fundraising.

“The board needs to explain why it shut without asking Auckland for help. We don’t believe they have the right to sell the land and forget about young disabled adults.

The Laura Fergusson Trust has been contacted for comment.



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