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Chief Justice expresses 'deepest sympathy' to family of Ruth Morrissey in Supreme Court judgment

The judge said the “tragic circumstances had most sadly, come to fruition”.

Ruth Morrissey outside the High Court in 2019.
Ruth Morrissey outside the High Court in 2019.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE CHIEF JUSTICE has expressed the “deepest sympathy” of the Supreme Court following the death of Ruth Morrissey. 

In a judgment today relating to the appeals process as part of her legal action, Mr Justice Frank Clarke began by referring to the “tragic news of the death of Ms. Ruth Morrissey”. 

“On my own behalf, and on behalf of all of the members of the Court, we would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the late Ms. Morrissey, ” the Chief Justice wrote.

“When giving judgment on the main issues on these appeals, I started by noting the very tragic circumstances which now have, most sadly, come to fruition.”

Despite this, the judge said that the court was required to decide on “important legal issues which have arisen”, adding that the issues “have the potential to affect many more cases even beyond the scope of CervicalCheck”. 

The issues relate to the €2.1 million in damages the Limerick woman and her husband Paul won in their High Court action against the HSE and two laboratories, Quest Diagnostics Inc and Medlab Pathology Ltd. 

The State previously guaranteed that damages figure so today’s judgment will not affect the award to the Morrissey family.  

Despite this, the court was required to rule on what the Chief Justice described as the “very unusual circumstances” of this case. 

During the appeals process, Medlab was successful in reducing part of the award to Paul Morrissey by €575,000. 

The HSE and Quest did not appeal the damages award but argued that the reduction should also apply to them. 

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In today’s judgement, the Supreme Court decided that:

…despite it being a very marginal call the more just course of action to adopt would be to reduce the award against both the HSE and Quest by the same amount as it is agreed that the award against Medlab must be reduced. 

In deciding on costs, the Supreme Court ruled that the cost of all the appeals be split between the HSE and the two labs. 

The judgment ordered that two-thirds of the costs should be borne between Quest, Medlab and the HSE, with the final third to be split between HSE and Quest. 

This is because, the judgment stated, Medlab would have been entitled to “at least some of the costs” because of its partially successful appeal.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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