Joan Lucey’s family had pleaded for mediation to start sooner as they feared she would not survive for a full hearing of her case in court.
The High Court heard yesterday that conversations aimed resolving the action would begin next Tuesday.
However, Ms Lucey’s son Sean last night said that the stress of the litigation and uncertainty surrounding mediation had led to her health deteriorating even further.
The 73-year-old grandmother passed away overnight, surrounded by her family in Dingle, Co Kerry.
A death notice posted by the family today says she will be “sadly missed by her loving daughters Sinéad and Eileen, son Seán, sister Eileen, brother Seán, grandchildren Isobel, Jane and Fiadh, son in law Jonathan, niece, relatives and friends”.
It is not yet clear what this will mean for the legal proceedings but her children have vowed to continue her battle with the HSE and laboratories.
Sean previously described his mother as “a fighter” and said he wanted people impacting by the CervicalCheck scandal to know they were not alone.
“She worked hard and was involved in many community groups including cancer care fundraising here in Dingle. Mom did so much for us. She is an amazing woman,” he said last week.
Mrs Lucey was a district nurse in the West Kerry area for many years, having returned to work in order to support her children after her husband Robbie died in 1995.
In a statement just hours before his mother passed away, Sean said he and his siblings, Eileen and Sinéad, would seek to continue her case if she could not.
The family say that they have been told that a large portion of the claim will fall away due to their mother’s death but they intend to challenge this.
“We hope the pillar-to-post run-around we are getting is not a cynical exercise to avoid responsibility, financial or otherwise. We are all saddened by the way our mother has been dealt with. She certainly deserves better,” Mr Lucey said last night.
On two occasions Mrs Lucey’s lawyers made courtroom appeals for her case to be resolved through mediation rather than a trial which was scheduled to begin next Friday.
At one point she was prepared to give evidence from her deathbed but it became clear in recent days that she would be too weak to do so.
Mrs Lucey had sued the HSE, Clinical Pathology Laboratories Incorporated (CPL) with headquarters in Austin, Texas, USA and MedLab Pathology Ltd with registered offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin. The mediation will also involve a third party joined in the proceedings by US laboratory CPL.
Her claim alleged misreading or misinterpretation or misreporting of her cervical smears, taken in February 2011 and August 2011. All claims are denied.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who had urged mediation and told the HSE and the laboratories yesterday to take instructions “at the highest level”, wished all sides success in the mediation which he described as “a quite difficult endeavour”.
The HSE does not comment on cases publicly. The State Claims Agency, which handles cases on behalf of the HSE, has said it aims to resolve all cervical cancer screening claims against the HSE “in a sensitive manner and as quickly as possible”.
A private funeral ceremony in line with Covid 19 restrictions will take place on Monday afternoon.
The family have asked people not to send flowers but to instead make donations in Mrs Lucey’s honour to Kerry Palliative Care and Irish Cancer Society.