Tag Archives: Ruth Morrissey

From top: Ruth Morrissey and husband Paul arriving at the High Court Dublin in 2018; Leo Varadkar yesterday

This morning.

Today with Sarah McInerney on RTÉ Radio One.

Former Taoiseach and now Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar defended his government’s decision to challenge Ruth Morrissey in court over misreading and misreporting of her cervical smear test.

Sarah Mcinerney: “Do you think she [Ruth Morrissey] should have been dragged through the courts until her dying day?”

Leo Varadkar: “I, I, I think it was, em, of course we all regret that that happened and bear in mind that these were decisions made not just by the laboratories but also the State Claims Agency which acts independently of politicians.

We don’t make these decisions as politicians they are made by the State Claims Agency, em, I, I, look it, I can’t understand the pain and difficulty and suffering she would have gone through and when it all started it was my fervent hope we would be able to settle all these cases by mediation and negotiation and many have been, this was the only case that went to a full hearing.

But sometimes the problem is mediation doesn’t always work…and that happens when there is a dispute about the facts which there was in this case. And I don’t want to go into the details of the case.

Some sections of the case she won, some she didn’t. The judgment in the High Court was slightly different, but it was really sad for her and her family that this became a test case, but it did become a test case, and one thing she achieved is the judgment from the Supreme Court settles all those points…”


Previously:  ‘Neither The State Nor The HSE Have Ever Apologised To Her’


From top: An expert clinical panel, including Tony Holohan former chief medical officer at the department of health, addresses cerevicalcheck concerns in 2018; Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul arriving at the High Court Dublin in the same year


Limerick mum-of-one Ruth Morrissey died, at the age of 39, at Milford Hospice.

Before her death, Ms Morrissey sued the HSE, Quest Diagnostics Ireland and Medlab Pathology over the misreading of her smear test results and the failure to tell her about it.

In a statement issued through her solicitor Cian O’Carroll, Ruth’s husband Paul said:

“Ruth passed away this morning with her now grieving husband Paul by her side. She died in the care of the gifted staff at Milford Hospice where she has received such loving care over the past year or so.

“Though just 39 years old, Ruth achieve so much in her life and chief among those accomplishments is the love she and Paul shared and the wonderful daughter they brought into this world and raised with love.

“Ruth had a sparkle to her smile, her wit and her intelligence. That sparkle made her wonderful company and her friendship was a gift she gave generously to anyone who knew her.

“It was 2014 when Ruth found out she had cervical cancer and 2018 before she learned that there had been grievous mistakes in the screening programme that were to cost her life.

Despite her time left being so short, the State and their lab chose her as the test case and she showed courage and determination throughout that 36-day marathon trial but she persevered and won her case proving that the State was responsible for the running of CervicalCheck and responsible for its failings just as their labs were.

It was a terrible blow to her last year when the State joined again with those labs in appealing the High Court decision.

“By then very sick and weak, Ruth still made it to the Supreme Court hearings for one day. That was last December. In March the Supreme Court confirmed that the High Court was correct in holding the State and the HSE responsible for errors in the operation of CervicalCheck in a decision that establishes the test for the standard of care for all the other women and families similarly let down.

Despite the magnitude of the harm caused to her by avoidable errors, despite the broken promise of a Taoiseach who said no other woman would have to go to trial, despite using Ruth as a test case through the final years and months of her life, neither the HSE nor the State has ever apologised to her, and now it is too late.

“The Morrissey and Moloney families, in their grief, wish to thank all those who have given help, support and medical care to Ruth over these past few difficult years.

Ruth’s life was a very happy one and none of the hardships of recent years robbed her of her good cheer and positive spirit. She fought fiercely to stay alive for the family she adored.

“The example she set stands as an enduring inspiration of strength and determination that should help many others through difficult times in the future.”

Via Orla O’Donnell

Previously: ‘I Didn’t Think I’d Be In This Position’

‘If He Doesn’t, I Don’t Think He Should Be In The Position He’s In’


From top: Ruth Morrissey, barrister Aisling Mulligan

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland with Audrey Carville.

Barrister Aisling Mulligan, who specialises in medical cases, spoke to Ms Carville about the State Claims Agency’s appeal in relation to the High Court case of Ruth Morrissey.

Ruth and her husband Paul Morrissey were awarded €2.1million damages last month over the misreading of smear tests and the failure to tell her about it.

Ms Morrissey claimed that if her smear tests in 2009 and 2012 had been correctly reported, she could have been successfully treated and not developed terminal cancer.

When the judgment was granted, Judge Kevin Cross said Ms Morrissey’s life had been ruined.

He also said that medical laboratory screeners should have “absolute confidence” that there are no abnormalities in a test slide before giving a test the all-clear.

The term “absolute confidence” was also used by Mr Justice John Peppet in an English Court of Appeal judgment called Penney Palmer & Canon in 1999.

The State Claims Agency has said it is appealing the judgment and focussing on “a number of important legal points that may have significant implications for the State” but not the award of €2.1million to the couple.

On Morning Ireland, Ms Mulligan told Ms Carville that Judge Cross’s judgment contains almost 200 paragraphs and is an extremely detailed judgment.

She pointed out that, in paragraph of 15 of the judgment, he says that no testing is infallible.

Ms Mulligan said:

“He goes on to use the really practical example that we found in Mrs Morrissey’s case where, in 2014, she was diagnosed with cancer while receiving treatment but actually one of her screenings came back as negative.

“So that’s one of the practical examples that nobody asserted that there was negligence even though there was an outcome that was in fact incorrect.

“And that’s a really important thing for the general public to realise, that while the sentence ‘absolute confidence’ seems to be causing people an awful lot of concern; that this is going to close off the concept of cervical screening and, indeed, other screening.

“It’s very clear that, within the judgment and within the case itself, that there was an acknowledgement that there is always an aspect of limitation from the use of cervical screening.”

Ms Mulligan went on to say:

“The test of ‘absolute confidence’ is I suppose it finds its basis in Penney, in theory, but in reality what Judge Cross has identified in his judgment is: what do the medical practitioners set as their test for their standard of care?

“And it appears to me, at least, having looked at what he has determined as facts, is that there were five different witnesses who accepted that absolute [confidence] was the test that the medical professionals…was what was required of the appropriately qualified medical practitioner.

“And what follows from that argument is that it’s not absolute confidence that you do have cancer, it is absolute confidence that, if there is something on the screen, that it’s followed up on, that it is escalated.

“And that is the extent to which the test applies.

“….so if there is a grey area, if there is room for uncertainty, the question that the reasonable practitioner has to ask themselves is: am I certain that there’s nothing there?

“If the answer to that is ‘no’, I should refer on.”

Ms Carville asked Ms Mulligan if screening suffered as a consequence of the Penney judgment in the UK. 

She said:

“I’m a lawyer and I’m not a healthcare expert so I would be careful not to draw, not to extrapolate too much but one of the comments that has been identified is that there were different problems in Penney and I think that’s probably true.

“There was a different factual nexus in Penney to what we have in Mrs Morrissey’s case. The relevance of that, I suppose, is whether or not it closed off screening in the UK.

Respectfully, it hasn’t, the result hasn’t occurred.

“Whether it will happen here is a question that will have to be seen in reality.

“But the purpose of this judgment is to reinforce…the certainty that people have in cervical screening.”

In reference to the State Claims Agency that the appeal won’t affect Ms Morrissey’s award of €2.1million, Ms Mulligan said she’s not sure if the sum can be ringfenced before adding:

“There have been circumstances where appeals have gone over to superior courts on technical points after the other side have been, after the applicant, who has won their case, has been allowed to continue.

“I’ve not seen it on a financial basis. So it depends on two-fold: what are the State appealing, which we’re not clear on at this stage.

“What are the second and third defendants [two labs] appealing, which we’re not clear on, at this stage.

“And then the second question is: what will Mrs Morrissey’s position be.

“If the State were to indemnify, for example, Mrs Morrissey, that may result in a different, it may make it easier for the case to go forward on, I suppose, a point of public importance.

“But I have seen examples of where it has happened but not one where the issue of quantum or the issue of payout or compensation or financial settlement has been determined.

“I’m not familiar with one so we’re sort of in uncharted territory respectfully.”

Listen back in full here

Yesterday: State Appeal

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court last month

Yesterday, Susan Mitchell, in the Sunday Business Post, reported that the State Claims Agency is to appeal the recent High Court judgment in favour of terminally ill mum Ruth Morrissey who has cervical cancer.

Last night, a statement released by Ms Morrissey’s solicitor Cian O’Carroll, on behalf of her and her husband Paul, said the first Ms Morrissey came to know about this pending appeal was the Sunday Business Post report.

Ruth and Paul Morrissey were awarded €2.1million damages last month over the misreading of  smear tests and the failure to tell her about it.

Ms Morrissey claimed that if her smear tests in 2009 and 2012 had been correctly reported, she could have been successfully treated and not developed terminal cancer.

The State Claims Agency has said it is appealing the judgment and focussed on “a number of important legal points that may have significant implications for the State” but not the award of €2.1million to the couple.

Mr O’Carroll told Newstalk this morning that Ms Morrissey is “terribly upset” about the appeal.

State set to appeal landmark Morrissey CervicalCheck case (Susan Mitchell, Sunday Business Post)

Previously: ‘I Didn’t Think I’d Be In This Position’


Limerick mother-of-two Vicky Phelan, who settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million last year, has tweeted her thoughts on news of the appeal.

Ms Phelan, who refused to sign a gagging order about her case, was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error.

Following her case, it later emerged that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.

Ms Phelan tweeted:

Previously: Vicky Phelan on Broadsheet

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court this morning

Orla O’Donnell, of RTE, reports:

Ruth Morrissey has won her High Court action over the alleged misreading of smear tests and the failure to tell her about it.

The 37-year-old and her husband Paul have been awarded €2.1 million in damages.

Ms Morrissey and her husband, Paul, of Monaleen in Co Limerick, sued the HSE and two laboratories – Quest Diagnostics and MedLab Pathology Limited.

It is the first such case to have been heard in full and to be the subject of a High Court judgment.

Terminally ill woman awarded €2.1m in smear test case (RTE)

Ms Morrissey spoke to reporters after the judgment.

At one point she said:

“What can I say, I didn’t think I’d be in this position because our Taoiseach told us none of us would have to go through this but unfortunately I’m one who had to. So I hope that’s a positive thing for the women who are left – that they don’t need to do this.

“To fight for what is there right to have a good life of what they’ve left.

I’d encourage every woman to continue on getting their smears because it’s very important even though it failed me but it does save many, many lives and it’s a screening programme that we need. The HPV [vaccine], if you’re eligible, please get it. This is not a cancer that you want.

“And I’d just like to thank this man here [Paul] for being my rock through everything.”



From top: Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court last July, Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins; Tanaiste Simon Coveney

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins raised the nature of the questions put to terminally ill Ruth Morrissey, who has cervical cancer, by the HSE’s legal counsel in the High Court yesterday.

Ms Morrissey, who broke down in the witness box yesterday, is taking action over an alleged misreading of her smear slides in 2009 and 2012 taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme.

Yesterday was the 27th day of Ms Morrissey’s action.

Mr Collins said that last May, following Vicky Phelan’s High Court action, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told RTÉ’s Six One News that, in relation to women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal, “what we propose to do is to offer mediation in every case, so that women can avoid having to go to court and the trauma of a court hearing”.

Mr Collins added:

“He went on to say ‘what we will do in this situation is the State will settle and pursue the lab later’, so essentially the State will be on the side of the plaintiff, on the side of the woman.

“Now late on Monday, Ruth Morrissey was summoned to the High Court for yesterday, where she was subjected to a pretty robust and traumatising cross-examination by counsel for the HSE.

“Her family are quite upset about it and I think it draws into question, seriously, the commitments which were given to the women by the Taoiseach, namely that mediation would be offered. So what I want to ask you is: are you the happy that the mediation process, which the Attorney General was to counsel the State Claims Agency, to enter into a meaningful way. Are you happy that that is happening?

“Are you satisfied that the women who have been failed in this regard are being treated sensitively and properly by the State Claims Agency and that proper mediation process is being engaged in?”

In response, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he acknowledged the “difficulty and the heartache” that Ruth and her family, and that of the other women, have had to go through.

He said:

“The State’s only objective is to support those people as best we can. To try to keep people out of court and to assure that there are settlements that are fair, available to the women and families involved.

“That is why yesterday, on Leaders’ Questions, I announced the detail of the ex-gratia scheme which is being set up now under the chairmanship of a retired High Court judge. So that we can ensure that families and victims and individuals get the support that the State wants to make available to them.

“I don’t have the exact details in relation to the legal arguments around this case, deputy, so I’m slow to comment on a court case but I know certainly the policy direction from the Government is very clear here, to the State Claims Agency.

“We want to try to keep these cases out of court, so that people don’t have to go through what is an adversarial court system in relation to assessing the extent of claims and compensation.”

Ms Morrissey, from Limerick, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and a recurrence of her pelvic wall cancer was diagnosed in February 2018.

Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul Morrissey have sued the HSE and the two US laboratories – Quest Diagnostics and Medlab Pathology Ltd.

Related: Telling woman of audit results would not have changed prognosis – consultant (Mary Carolan, The Irish Times)


Top: Ruth Morrissey outside the High Court last week

RTE reports:

“The legal action being taken by a 37-year-old woman with cervical cancer who is suing the Health Service Executive and two laboratories over the incorrect reporting of two smear tests, has been adjourned until September.

The High Court has been told that Ruth Morrissey, a mother-of-one from Limerick, has responded well to treatment so far.

Mrs Morrissey has been told that she could have less than a year to live.

… Mrs Morrissey’s lawyers wanted the case to continue in August.

But the two laboratories – Quest Diagnostics and Medlab Pathology – asked the court to adjourn the matter until later in the year.

They said it made more sense to continue the case after the result of that further scan were known.

Lawyers for the laboratories said there was now no imminent risk to Mrs Morrissey and less requirement for the matter to be heard urgently.”

Morrissey case over incorrect smear tests adjourned until September (RTE)

Previously: ‘If He Doesn’t, I Don’t Think He Should Be In The Position He’s In’