Ruth Morrissey's cervical-smear test case adjourned to next year

Ruth Morrissey

By Ann O’Loughlin

Limerick woman Ruth Morrissey, who is terminally ill with cancer, has had her case over an alleged misreading of her cervical smear tests adjourned to next year at the High Court.

The move came after Mr Justice Kevin Cross who had expected to resume hearing the case today heard that causation is now seriously in issue.

One of the laboratories being sued now asserts that the cancer from which the mother is suffering and which was diagnosed in 2014 has nothing to do with her smear tests.

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul are suing over cervical smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012.

The case will resume before the High Court on January 29, 2019.

Ms Morrissey’s senior counsel Jeremy Maher SC today said that the new assertion by one of the laboratories is contained in a medical report provided by one of the laboratories.

He said his side does not accept the conclusion of the defendant’s medical report and their side need time to bring in their own experts and examine the area of histopathology.

He said the question of causation goes to the heart of the case. He said that the Morrissey side now has to deal with the question of liability and also causation.

Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul Morrissey of Kylemore, Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick have sued the HSE and the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd with offices at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin along with Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18.

It is claimed there was an alleged failure to correctly report and diagnose and there was an alleged misinterpretation of her smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012.

A situation it is claimed allegedly developed where Ms Morrissey’s cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.

It is further claimed a review of the 2009 and 2012 smears took place in 2014 and 2015 with the results sent to Ms Morrissey's treating gynaecologist in 2016, but she was not told until May this year of those review results which showed her smears were reported incorrectly.

The HSE the court has already heard admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey but not to her husband and it admits the results of her smear reviews should have been made known to Ms Morrissey. The laboratories deny all claims.

Ms Morrissey was diagnosed with cervical cancer and breast cancer this year.

The case opened in July and was due to resume hearing today before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

However, last week her lawyers applied for an adjournment saying they need time to engage experts to carry out new and further tests.

The application was adjourned so Mr Justice Cross who has already heard days of evidence in the case could deal with the matter.

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