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Daughter of 81-Year-Old Asbestos Victim Triumphs

Published: 06 April 2014, in categories: Personal Injury Updates | Legal Updates | News and Updates

The daughter of a retired industrial worker who died from asbestos-related cancer at the age of 81, following exposure to deadly dust during the early 1960s, has won the right to compensation for her loss at the Court of Appeal.

The former painter and labourer was struck down by mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lungs notorious for its incurability, its slowness to develop and the agony suffered by its victims. He had been exposed to asbestos whilst working at a factory in Hartlepool between 1961 and 1964.

His daughter launched proceedings against a company that had succeeded to the liabilities of her father’s former employers, alleging that he had been negligently exposed to the substance. A High Court official subsequently ruled that the company had no viable defence to the daughter’s claim and entered summary judgment in her favour.

Challenging that decision, the company’s lawyers argued that the case against it was ‘marginal’ and ‘uncorroborated’. There was no evidence that, in his role as a painter, the father had worked with welders, fitters or laggers, who were more likely to have suffered asbestos exposure. It was argued that the company ought to have been given a chance to defend the daughter’s claim.

However, in refusing permission to appeal, the Court of Appeal noted clear evidence that asbestos had been present in the father’s workplace. It was on pipework and in the air due to the amount of lagging which took place. There was also an accident report which indicated that he had carried out more general duties as a labourer.

The Court concluded, "It would be difficult to dispel the inference that he was exposed to significant quantities of asbestos while working for the defendant's predecessor between 1961 and 1964." The amount of the daughter’s damages award was left over for assessment on another day.

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