Monday 18 June 2018

Woman at centre of latest cervical smear legal action 'is receiving palliative care'

The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)
The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)

Tim Healy

Another legal action involving a woman suing over alleged delays relating to CervicalCheck smears has come before the High Court.

This is the fourth case to be listed in the High Court since the CervicalCheck smear controversy arose when Limerick woman Vicky Phelan settled her action for €2.5million. A case relating to ovarian cancer has also come before the court.

In the latest case which was instituted just a few days ago,  the court heard it related to CervicalCheck and the woman is in a parlous state and could succumb at any moment.

Her case is against the HSE and laboratories who examined the smear tests.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross made an order that the woman not be identified in any way.

Counsel for the woman Jeremy Maher SC told the court the proceedings had been issued last Friday and he was applying for an early court date for the trial of the woman's hearing. He said the woman was currently receiving palliative chemotherapy.

Counsel handed in a medical report to the court and he said the woman was in a parlous state.

Mr Maher said the case could be listed with the other cases involving CervicalCheck before the High Court as there was an overlap on the experts listed in the cases.

Counsel said he appreciated the situation put the court under great strain but the woman could succumb at any moment.

Patrick Hanratty SC for the HSE agreed there was an overlap of expert witnesses between the cases.

The cases are the first to be listed in the High Court since the CervicalCheck smear controversy arose in April after Limerick woman Vicky Phelan settled her action for €2.5 million.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross has already set hearing dates for the end of this month and in July for the other actions.

Setting a hearing date for July 20 in the latest case, Mr Justice Kevin Cross congratulated lawyers on all sides for the way they had expedited the work in each of the cases.

The cancer-screening controversy emerged two months ago when Vicky Phelan settled for €2.5 million her court action against a US laboratory which the CervicalCheck screening service had subcontracted to read smear tests.

Ms Phelan developed cancer after receiving a false negative result in her 2011 smear test.

Among the cases currently before the courts is that of Kerry mother of five Emma Mhic Mhathuna who has flagged that she will seek exemplary and aggravated damages when her case over alleged delays goes ahead.

Counsel for Ms MhicMhathuna when the case came before the court last month said as of that date there had been no substantive admission of liability in the case from the HSE and it was a source of torment and anguish to the mother of five.

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