368 legal claims brought over CervicalCheck, while tribunal registers just 25

368 legal claims brought over CervicalCheck, while tribunal registers just 25

(Left to right) Campaigners Vicky Phelan, Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh. Mr Teap is suing over the death of his 35-year-old wife, Irene, from cervical cancer five years ago. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

The number of legal claims brought in relation to the CervicalCheck controversy now stands at 368.

And 75 of those are psychological injury claims from members of the families of the women caught up in the controversy surrounding the national screening programme and the alleged misreading and misreporting of cervical smear slides.

In contrast, the CervicalCheck Tribunal has received claims in respect of just 25 women. Eight of these have been resolved between the parties, and there are 13 claims currently being processed before the Tribunal, the Department of Health has confirmed. 

Six of the claims were brought by the surviving family members of women who had already died. The final Tribunal closing date for new claims was July 26 this year.

According to the State Claims Agency, it has been notified of 368 legal claims at the end of August this year. 

It also said that 137 of the claims have now concluded and the majority of the cases involve multiple defendants and third parties including the HSE, the laboratories involved in testing smear slides and in some cases individual clinicians and non-HSE hospitals.

A number of cases where women and their loved ones are suing over the alleged misreading of cervical smear slides are scheduled to start before the High Court during the upcoming legal term.

Several of the cases have already been given special fixed dates to start before the High Court in the new legal year, which kicks off at the start of October.

Four years ago, Vicky Phelan settled for €2.5 million her High Court action over a smear test taken under the national cervical screening programme and analysed in a US laboratory. File photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Four years ago, Vicky Phelan settled for €2.5 million her High Court action over a smear test taken under the national cervical screening programme and analysed in a US laboratory. File photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Solicitor Cian O’Carroll who represented Vicky Phelan whose High Court action over a smear test lifted the lid on the CervicalCheck controversy said his firm has 15 cases specially fixed to begin in the new law term.

Four years ago, Vicky Phelan settled for €2.5 million her High Court action over a smear test taken under the national cervical screening programme and analysed in a US laboratory. The settlement, which was without an admission of liability, was against the US laboratory and the case against the HSE was struck out. 

Ms Phelan’s 2011 smear test which showed no abnormalities was later involved in an audit of smears carried out in 2014 on a number of women found to be incorrect. Vicky Phelan, who in 2017 was advised of the review result, was the first woman to go public on the issue.

Among the cases due before the High Court in the coming months is that of CervicalCheck campaigner Stephen Teap, from Carriagaline, Co. Cork who is suing over the death of his 35-year-old wife, Irene, from cervical cancer five years ago. 

He, along with his two young sons — who are represented by Cantillons Solicitors — are also suing for nervous shock over her death. The case before the High Court is expected to last three weeks.

Mr Teap along with his sons Oscar, now aged 10, and seven-year-old Noah have sued the HSE and American laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL) with offices in Austin, Texas and MedLab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin, over the alleged misreporting of two of Ms Teap’s smear slides.

The case centres on two smear test taken from Ms Teap under the CervicalCheck national screening programme in 2010 and 2013. All the claims are denied.

Mr Teap and their two young sons, it is claimed, supported Irene Teap through a gruelling treatment programme in an attempt to cure the cancer. It is further claimed they watched in horror at the pain she had to endure and the decline of a vibrant young woman who fought valiantly for the sake of her family.

It is further claimed that although Oscar and Noah were very young at the time, their abiding image of their mother is that she was sick and in pain and it is claimed they were thus deprived of the society of their mother and of the love and devotion at a crucial stage of their development.

Mr Teap, it is alleged, went into shock when he received a call in May 2018 from the HSE which informed him that his wife’s name had come up in an audit requested by the Minister for Health into CervicalCheck.

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