Asbestos pleural thickening cases are on the rise. In a recent trial the court found that pleural thickening was the cause of an asbestos victims death.
The asbestos claim
In the case of Stacey (Executrix of the Estate of the Late Robert Perry ) v Triplex Safety Glass Company (2017) the Royal Courts of Justice found that the pleural thickening suffered by the deceased, after his exposure to asbestos, was the cause of his death.
The defendants had argued that his death was due to a general decline in his health.
The case facts
The deceased (Mr Perry) developed pleural thickening which was caused by negligent exposure to asbestos. He had worked as a carpenter and maintenance man. In the two years before his death his health had gone downhill and he suffered breathing problems.
The deceased was in his mid-80s when he died and there was a disagreement about whether he died as a result of his asbestos related disease or a general decline in his health. The latter was argued as he had suffered the death of his wife shortly before his own death.
The post-mortem clearly recorded death due to bronchopneumonia.
The Claimants argued that the general decline in health was due to repeated pneumonia. This, when compounded was made worse by the diffuse pleural thickening, folded lung and traction bronchiectasis. These were all due to asbestos exposure.
The defendants argued that the deceased died due to pneumonia on a background of general declining health.
The Master found that the claimant’s serious lung condition and the progress of that disease was a cause of death.
The asbestos exposure caused the pleural thickening, folding of the lung and bronchiectasis. This in turn caused breathlessness, bouts of pneumonia and the type of pneumonia which was found at death.
In balancing the potential causes of the death the master preferred the simplest approach which was that he deceased had suffered from a significant amount of disability in the final years of his life due to the pleural thickening.
Asbestos pleural thickening summary
Whilst the case stands on its own facts it is of interest to others with pleural thickening due to asbestos. It provides a useful idea of how the courts will look at cases for asbestosis and pleural thickening which tend to have a gradual and debilitating effect on someone’s health.
Asbestos case Comment
Corries Maria McMurray said
“This is a useful and sensible decision. The judgment has clearly shown that where someone is poorly for years due to asbestos then it can be a cause of death. I hope other judges follow this logic and see how severe asbestos disease can be on a person’s last years of life”
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