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'She wants it to be over': Ruth Morrissey 'very upset' over State move to appeal CervicalCheck case

The State Claims Agency said its appeal will not relate to the decision on the award of damages.

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the Four Courts in Dublin after the High Court judgement last month.
Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the Four Courts in Dublin after the High Court judgement last month.
Image: PA

THE SOLICITOR REPRESENTING Ruth Morrissey, one of the women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal, has said she is upset that the State has decided to appeal the High Court decision in her case.

Last month the High Court awarded Ruth and her husband Paul €2.1 million in damages.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross found that the lab where the Limerick woman’s 2009 smear was read were negligent and in breach of duty. 

He found that the lab that handled her 2012 slide failed to test it for adequacy before examining it for abnormal cells and that this was also negligent and in breach of duty. 

The judge said in his decision that laboratories carrying out screening programmes should have “absolute confidence” in their decision if they are to give a slide the all-clear. He also said that the HSE had a primary liability in the case. 

The Sunday Business Post reported revealed yesterday that the State Claims Agency, which is acting on behalf of the HSE, is planning to appeal the judgement. 

‘Very upset’

A spokesperson for the agency said the appeal would be lodged today in respect of  “a number of important legal points that may have significant implications for the State”.

The spokesperson said the appeal would relate to issues of primary and vicarious liability and absolute confidence definition. 

“The appeal will not relate to the High Court’s decision on the award of damages.”

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Ruth Morrissey’s solicitor Cian O’Carroll said neither he nor his client were aware the case was to be appealed before the news broke.

“I was speaking to Ruth again today and she’s very upset over the whole thing,” he said. The fact that six weeks had gone but, she really thought they weren’t going to appeal and that would be the end of it.

“She wants it to be over with, she just wants to spend time with her daughter and her husband.”

‘Who’s responsible?’

O’Carroll said he was particularly “annoyed” about the appeal in relation to the absolute confidence test as this was dealt with in the High Court case and the two laboratories had accepted that this is the test they use. 

He said the HSE had an opportunity at this point to challenge it, but decided not to. 

On the challenge to liability, O’Carroll asked “if the HSE is not responsible for the screening service, then who is?”.

They designed it, they rolled it out, they decided to wind up labs here and outsource it, they set the standards, wrote the contracts and supervised the labs. Now they say they’re not responsible because it’s an independent contractor.

He said the process is now likely to take “several months” though he hopes the Supreme Court would be “compassionate” and give priority to the case. 

Minister for Health Simon Harris yesterday told RTÉ’s This Week programme that he would seek to protect the award in the mother-of one’s case. 

“What I would like to see happen is to try and find a mechanism to protect Ms Morrissey’s interest from any appeal.

“She has been vindicated in the High Court in relation to her own case, and no-one should try to take that from her.”

He said the decision to appeal was that of the State Claims Agency and there was no political involvement.

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