Boxer sues after swallowing dental instrument

Irish boxer Ceire Smith could have been ‘the next Katie Taylor’, court hears

Cavan boxer Ceire Smith is sueing her dentist and the HSE at the High Court. Photograph: Collins Courts

Cavan boxer Ceire Smith is sueing her dentist and the HSE at the High Court. Photograph: Collins Courts


Irish boxing champion Ceire Smith has sued for damages alleging her boxing career was adversely affected after she swallowed a sharp dental instrument during root canal treatment.

The Cavan Boxing Club flyweight could have been “the next Katie Taylor” and could have qualified for the Rio Olympics 2016, Michael J McMahon SC, for Ms Smith, told the High Court on Tuesday.

Boxing coach Billy Walsh has travelled from Colorado in the US to give evidence and will say Ms Smith would have qualified for Rio 2016 and was expected to get a medal, counsel said.

Ms Smith (25) has sued her dentist and the HSE after the sharp instrument dropped down her throat during root canal treatment in October 2013.

While she was told it would pass through her system, it travelled inside her body, lodging near her hip only centimetres from her femoral artery and was eventually taken out following surgery in September 2014, counsel said.

Counsel handed pictures to Mr Justice Michael Moriarty of the instrument, which he said was “sharp” and a barbed broach instrument.

During this time, Ms Smith was in training as an elite athlete to go for qualifiers to compete in the Rio Olympics.

“Billy Walsh will say she would have qualified for Rio 2016. Irish ladies boxing was going through a golden era and Billy Walsh will say she was the next Katie Taylor and she would have got a medal,” counsel said during his opening of the case.

Liability admitted

Ms Smith, a student from Ballyhaise, Co Cavan, has sued her dentist Rachael Frazer, with a dental practice at Church Street, Cavan, and the HSE. Liability has been admitted and the case, which continues on Wednesday, is before the court for assessment of damages only.

She claims the dentist failed to use dental floss or other material to attach to the instrument so it could be retrieved and not swallowed. It is claimed the dentist advised Ms Smith the piece of equipment would be passed by her in days and it was just a “little bit of metal”.

Against the HSE, Ms Smith claims failure to refer her to a gastroenterologist who could have arranged imaging to track and check on the position of the instrument and undertake appropriate management. She also claims she was advised she was fit to engage in a boxing competition.

Ms Smith claimed she competed in the multi-nations in March 2014 in Germany but felt very weak and performed badly. In April that same year, she competed in Poland and lost and had severe abdominal pain. She said she went back to Cavan General Hospital at the end of April 2014 but was told she could continue to compete.

In September 2014, she returned to the hospital in pain but was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. After investigations, she had two bouts of surgery and the instrument was removed in late September 2014. She was unable to partake in the world championships in South Korea in November 2014 which, she claims, was damaging to her career and hugely upsetting for her.