Norman Jones won a Supreme Court ruling last week that employees exposed to even the smallest dose of asbestos who fall victim to mesothelioma can seek to claim compensation from their employers. Jones acted for the family of Enid Costello, who contracted malignant mesothelioma after inhaling a low concentration of airborne asbestos while a secretary at Ellesmere Port packaging company Greif (UK). She died in January 2006, aged 74.
The Court of Appeal had previously ruled that Greif (UK) should pay compensation to Costello, but the company took the case to the Supreme Court, where it argued that it should only be held liable if it could be proved that it was responsible for causing exposure to asbestos that had at least ‘doubled the risk’ of mesothelioma.
The court rejected this argument, ruling that there was no requirement for a claimant to show a doubling of risk. It was sufficient that a claimant could show exposure to asbestos, even at low levels. Greif (UK) declined to comment.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This has been a difficult area of law for some years, with insurers challenging more and more mesothelioma claims over the extent of the victims’ exposure to harmful levels of asbestos. The Supreme Court has now made it clear that victims do not need to have worked where there was a high concentration of asbestos, but only need to show that they breathed low levels of asbestos in the general atmosphere of their workplace.’ (UK)
Source: The Law Gazette UK