Supreme Court asbestos ruling could pave the way for more claims

  • Posted

Posted 10/03/2011

More people may be encouraged to make compensation claims for industrial diseases developed as a result of low-level asbestos exposure after two landmark rulings at the Supreme Court.

Dianne Willmore, 49, died in 2009 and had just won a case against Knowsley Council after she alleged that she had breathed in asbestos as a pupil at Merseyside’s Bowring Comprehensive School.

However, the organisation said that it would appeal after her death.

Meanwhile, the family of Enid Costello, who died in 2006, had been continuing to fight against Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant Greif after she claimed she had developed incurable mesothelioma as a result of her time as a secretary there.

Both the council and Greif took their appeals to the Supreme Court this week, but seven judges unanimously dismissed them, meaning the families of the victims will be able to claim compensation for their loss.

Legal experts have also said it could pave the way for many more similar cases across the UK.

Simon Davis, a partner in the Ashtons Legal personal injury team who specialises in asbestos-related disease claims, adds: “It is accepted by doctors specialising in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases that mesothelioma can be caused by one fibre of asbestos which the lung seeks to eliminate over many years. 

“The defendants in these cases argued that the exposure to asbestos they were responsible for was so minimal as be unlikely to have caused the disease that killed these two ladies. 

“The Supreme Court confirmed that any exposure materially increased the risk of mesothelioma and therefore any exposure, however minimal, could be said to have contributed. Both families have been compensated accordingly.

“If someone has contracted mesothelioma, any one party who caused the exposure to asbestos will be liable for the full amount, however low that exposure.

“This is very good news for the families concerned although of no consolation to the brave ladies who endured the disease as long as they did. Their efforts will benefit many now suffering and who will be diagnosed in the future. We are yet to see the peak of mesothelioma diagnoses.”


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