Ruth Morrissey has won her High Court action over the misreading of smear tests and the failure to tell her about it. 

The 37-year-old and her husband have been awarded €2.1 million in damages.

Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul, of Monaleen in Co Limerick, sued the Health Service Executive and two laboratories - Quest Diagnostics and MedLab Pathology Limited.

Ms Morrissey was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 and the case related to cervical smears taken under the CervicalCheck Screening programme in 2009 and 2012.

The court heard she was not told until May last year that a 2014 review showed two smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme were reported incorrectly.

Speaking outside the court, Ms Morrissey said she did not think that she would be in this position "because our Taoiseach told us none of us would have to go through this, but unfortunately I’m one that had to".

"I hope that's a positive thing, so the women who are left, they don’t need to do this and fight for their right to have a good life of what they've left.

"I'd encourage every woman to continue on getting their smears (test) even though it failed me, but it does save many, many lives ... this is not a cancer that you want."

Ms Morrissey also thanked her husband for being her "rock through everything", as well as both their families and her medical and legal teams.

She said: "I just want to move on and spent what quality time I have left with my daughter."

Ms Morrissey claimed that if the tests in 2009 and 2012 had been correctly reported, she could have been successfully treated and would not have developed cancer.

She was diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer in February last year and given a prognosis of 12 to 24 months.

Ms Morrissey told the court she did not think she would ever have been told about the review of smear tests if it had not been for the case of Vicky Phelan, who settled her case against a US laboratory a year ago.

While a number of other women have also reached settlements, it is the first such case to have been heard in full and to be considered in a High Court judgment.

In his judgment today, Mr Justice Kevin Cross found that the laboratory who tested the 2009 smear slide, Quest Diagnostics, was negligent and in breach of duty.

He found the second lab, MedLab Pathology, which tested her 2012 smear, was not negligent in its failure to determine the slide contained abnormal cell, but he said that they were negligent or in breach of duty by not testing the adequacy of this slide.

The judge said if this had happened, the slide would probably have been reported as inadequate and Ms Morrissey would have been retested between one and three months.

Ms Morrissey also claimed that if she had known about the 2014 review, she would have asked for more scans and better surveillance of her condition.

Today, the court found that the HSE was not negligent in this regard and that Ms Morrissey should fail in these allegations.

However, the judge said if the 2009 slide had been properly analysed and the 2012 slide deemed inadequate, the events that would probably have followed meant that Ms Morrissey would never have contracted cancer.

He said she would have been spared the pain and distress of what followed, she would not have been subjected to radium and chemotherapy treatment and would not have been left with the knowledge that she had only at most two years to live.

Mr Justice Cross said that Ms Morrissey's life has "been ruined" and that she will be "aware of that fact for the rest of her life".

He said she suffered a "life sentence of which she is fully aware, which is expected to take effect within two years".

The judge described what happened to Ms Morrissey as suffering a "catastrophic injury, no less than that of a tetraplegic or someone with brain damage".

The case ran for 37 days - it began in July last year and resumed in January. Ms Morrissey, who has a young daughter, told the court she did not want to die.

The HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey. The laboratories denied all the claims.

Following the ruling, Medlab Pathology issued a statement saying it "welcomes today's judgment that our laboratory was not negligent in its review and interpretation of Ms Morrissey's 2012 slide".

It added: "However, we are surprised and disappointed with the finding there was insufficient cellular material on the slide to meet the minimum cell threshold of 5,000 cells.

"This is contrary to findings of a retrospective detailed actual cell count where it was proven there was in excess of 35,000 cells present on the slide.

"This is over seven times the required volume of cells to deem a cervical sample as adequate.

"As such, the company intends on reviewing the judgement in full with a view to appeal."

Phelan says judgement is significant

Vicky Phelan, whose legal case against the State opened up the CervicalCheck controversy, has said today's settlement in Ms Morrissey's case is very significant because the HSE has been found to be liable for the operation of the screening programme and any errors that arise from it.

She told RTÉ's Six One this means that in any future cases women will only have to sue the State and not the laboratories involved, which up to now had made the process very complicated.

She said that while a tribunal process to resolve the cases proposed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be behind closed doors, it will still be an adversarial approach, requiring women to take the stand.

Ms Phelan said that in his judgement today, the judge had been very clear that if there is any question when a smear test has been taken that it is showing an abnormality, it needs to be marked as abnormal and not as normal.

She said this will mean there will have to be absolute certainty. She said the judgement will require laboratories to adhere to Irish standards and this will be good for the screening programme.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said he did not want any woman have to go court over the CervicalCheck controversy, but that has not proved possible in all cases.

Leo Varadkar said he genuinely believed a year ago that all the cases could have been resolved through mediation.

He said the planned tribunal will provide an alternative to court and women will not have to take the stand.

A Government spokesperson said tonight it is hoped that the legislation to establish the tribunal will be passed before the Dáil summer recess.

The spokesperson said too that the tribunal would only be held in private if a woman chooses it to be. It can be held in public if that is her wish.

While a Department of Health spokesperson said: "The intention is that hearings of the tribunal would be private unless the claimant requests to hold the hearing in public."

Additional reporting Micheál Lehane