An asbestos cancer (mesothelioma) claim decision which denied compensation for a victim’s family is being appealed.
Corries have welcomed this news which might give hope to hundreds and possibly thousands of asbestos victims in the future.
The Asbestos Claim
The case of Bussey was heard by the High Court earlier this year. The case went against the Claimant and his family but permission has been given for the case to be appealed on a point of law.
The Asbestos Case background
The case was brought in respect of a man who died due to the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. He had been employed from 1965 to 1968 by the defendants. The victim had cut cement pipes made with asbestos. He also used asbestos rope which contained brown asbestos. There was some dispute between engineering experts as to the amount of asbestos exposure.
At the trial the judge found that the levels of exposure were very limited in time and low-level. He referred to something called “Technical Data Note (TDN) 13. This note set out standards for asbestos dust concentrations to be used with incoming Asbestos regulations in 1969.
A previous case of Williams in 2011 found that that TDN 13 was a good and practical guide to apply in cases of low level exposure to asbestos.
The Issues – Asbestos Cancer
At the Bussey trial the barristers argued that both Williams and this case should not be tied by that strict standard. In particular they argued that the state of knowledge of employers at the time was such that they should have been reducing exposure to asbestos altogether.
It was also argued that there have never been any safe levels of asbestos exposure. It was said that this was true even when the guidelines were produced.
The dangers of asbestos were published in the Sunday Times in October 1965. This confirmed even small amounts of asbestos dust could cause serious illness.
A further argument was that the guidelines themselves were based on the occupational limits from companies involved in the Asbestosis Research Council (ARC). This council was run by people in the asbestos industry and not by scientists.
The Outcome – Asbestos Cancer Mesothelioma
We wait with much anticipation how the courts will deal with this. Currently many mesothelioma and other asbestos victims have to face this legal argument.
The issue of low-level exposure to asbestos is one that is before the court more often. This happens as more and more people from occupations not clearly associated with asbestos get diagnosed. As many as one in six mesothelioma victims are female. Many of them were exposed to asbestos in factories, offices, shops and even from their loved ones bringing home the lethal dust and fibres on their work clothes.
The importance of the decision on these people now and in the future is grave and serious. Many thousands of people could be denied any compensation if the case does not change the law.
Asbestos Cancer – Mesothelioma – Summary
Corries Director and Asbestos Claims Manager Howard Bonnett added;
“I truly hope that the Court of Appeal looks sensibly at this case. To rely on historic dust levels set by the industry itself and then apply it to mesothelioma cases is unjust. The data notes were there to assess and help the HSE in dealing with factories – they were never intended to be used in a court of law 50 years later.
The insurance industry cannot be allowed to squirm out of its legacy to the poor victims of this terrible disease”
Corries will be watching this case and will make provide more input when the case is heard.
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