Judge to rule on test case over cervical smears

Case by terminally ill Ruth Morrissey and husband being tracked by other legal teams

Paul and Ruth Morrissey at the Four Courts. File photograph: Collins Courts

Paul and Ruth Morrissey at the Four Courts. File photograph: Collins Courts

 

A High Court judge will rule on Friday in the action by a terminally ill woman against the HSE and two US laboratories over alleged misreading of her CervicalCheck smear slides.

The action by Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul ran for 37 days and is regarded as a test case for the CervicalCheck controversy.

The couple, who have one child, are expected to be in court for the judgment by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

Legal teams representing other women who are taking similar actions relating to smear tests taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme have been monitoring the case.

It opened in July 2018 and ran for three days before being adjourned to resume last January for another 34 days.

The couple, of Monaleen, Co Limerick, have sued the HSE and two US laboratories – Quest Diagnostics Ireland and Medlab Pathology, with offices respectively at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, and Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18.

They allege failure to correctly report and diagnose and misinterpretation of Ms Morrissey’s smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012 and that her cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.

The HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey but not to her husband, while the laboratories denied all claims.

Ms Morrissey was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and suffered a recurrence last year. The court has been told the recurrence in her pelvic wall has spread to her bone and she has at most two years to live.

The case involved seven senior counsel, five junior counsel and four law firms.