Vicky Phelan's lawyer estimates at least 30 women have died following CervicalCheck scandal

Vicky Phelan's Lawyer Estimates At Least 30 Women Have Died Following Cervicalcheck Scandal
The lawyer who represented the late Vicky Phelan, Cian O’Carroll, said he acts or has acted for 17 women or their families who have died “from the gross negligence in the operation and management of CervicalCheck”. Photo: PA Images
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Gordon Deegan

The lawyer who represented the late Vicky Phelan in the pivotal High Court case concerning the CervicalCheck scandal said he acts or has acted for 17 women or their families who have died “from the gross negligence in the operation and management of CervicalCheck”.

On Friday, solicitor Cian O’Carroll said that overall he “would be quite confident in saying that to date, at least 30 women have died from these shameful and avoidable errors”.


Mr O’Carroll said: "The human cost of these failings cannot yet be counted as cancers continue to be diagnosed that should have been detected by CervicalCheck’s labs."

In a new written Dáil reply to co-leader of the Social Democrats Catherine Murphy TD on the issue, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the State Claims Agency (SCA) has received 378 CervicalCheck claims, including psychological claims brought by family members.

He said: "In relation to the 378 claims received, 156 have been concluded."

Mr Donnelly added: "Legal costs amounting to €4.76m have been paid in respect of CervicalCheck claims to date."



The Minister said these legal costs include fees paid to mediation services which he said is consistent with the SCA’s policy of using mediation wherever possible to resolve these claims in a non-adversarial manner.

Figures provided by Mr Donnelly show that Mr O’Carroll’s firm received €4.75 million (all figures including 23 per cent VAT) in legal costs in 2021 concerning 24 separate claims made to the SCA for medical negligence cases.

Cian O’Carroll Solicitors received the highest amount paid out to by the SCA to a plaintiffs’ firm in 2021, and the €4.75 million follows €5.4 million in legal costs paid out to the firm in 2020.

The figures also showed that Michael Boylan Litigation Law firm received €4.1 million in legal costs relating to 18 cases in 2021; Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors received €2.19 million concerning 19 cases; Cantillon Solicitors received €2 million in legal costs in 12 cases; Callan Tansey Solicitors received €1.98 million concerning 22 cases and Damien Tansey Solicitors received €1.69 million regarding 13 cases.


The amounts paid to legal firms also included the money paid to barristers and experts representing the plaintiffs.

Mr O'Carroll said the fee for the solicitors involved, the instructions fee, "forms only a fraction of the overall costs figure reported".

He said: "Nevertheless, medical negligence cases are very complex, usually hard fought by the health service provider and require huge inputs of time by legal teams on behalf of the injured party and so the legal costs that relate to this type of case are significant.

"The more complex a case, the more time is involved and that leads to higher legal costs. You do not get paid as a percentage of the damages and we do not charge our clients a fee."


Clinical care claims

The figures also showed that legal firms representing the SCA in clinical care claims also received substantial sums.

Hayes Solicitors received €4.63 million concerning 248 claims in 2021; Mason Hayes and Curran Solicitors received €3.84 million on connection with 148 claims; Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors received €3.13 million for 106 cases and Comyn Kelleher Tobin received €2.7 million regarding 97 cases.

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Mr O’Carroll said his practice is almost exclusively devoted to working for the victims of medical cases and last year the office employed 25 people, including 10 solicitors who are all engaged in medical negligence cases.

Mr O’Carroll said the costs all relate to cases that the State fought at least to trial stage.

He said: "While they say that they seek to mediate cases to spare the injured party from an adversarial litigation process, our experience is that they only seek mediation on the eve of trial. This does little to ease the stress on plaintiffs."

Mr O'Carroll added: "If the HSE was more forthcoming with acknowledging a mistake when it happens and then set out steps they are taking to avoid a repetition of the mistake, a lot of people would not feel the need to take legal action."

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