Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Backing for low level asbestos exposure payouts


									Backing for ‘low level’ asbestos exposure payouts
Two families have won groundbreaking claims for compensation after loved ones died
from cancer caused by exposure to "low level" asbestos. The Supreme Court ruled in
favour of the relatives of Dianne Willmore and Enid Costello, who both suffered
malignant mesothelioma. Mrs Willmore, from North Wales, was exposed to asbestos
while a school pupil, and died in 2009, aged 49. Mrs Costello was exposed to asbestos
while working as a secretary at Greif (UK) Ltd. She died in 2006, aged 74. Mrs Willmore
died the day after a judge ruled she was entitled to £240,000 compensation. The award,
made against Knowsley Council for negligently exposing her to asbestos fibres, was
frozen while the authority appealed against the decision. The mother-of-two contracted
the cancer after being exposed to asbestos dust while at Bowring School in Huyton, in
the 1970s. The council and Greif had argued they could only be held liable if it could be
proved they were responsible for causing exposure to asbestos that had at least
“doubled the risk” of mesothelioma. But seven Supreme Court justices unanimously
rejected the argument, echoing High Court and Appeal Court decisions, and ruled there
was no requirement for a claimant to show a doubling of risk. Whether exposure was too
insignificant to be taken into account was a matter for the trial judge on the facts of each
particular case, they ruled. Ruth Davies, solicitor for Mrs Willmore's husband Barre, said:
“These cases were another attack on asbestos disease victims. The defendants were
trying to change the law that has been working perfectly well for many years so that
fewer people who are dying can get properly compensated.” Tony Whitston, chair of the
Asbestos Victims Support Groups‟ Forum, said: “Arguments for a „safe‟ threshold are
everything to do with denying liability for compensation and nothing to do with
protecting people. This case not only protects compensation for those who have been
negligently exposed to low levels of asbestos, but also gives a warning to those who
think that workplaces such as schools, which are heavily contaminated with asbestos,
are low risk.”

       The Supreme Court press summary [pdf] and full judgment [pdf]. John Pickering
       Solicitors news release. Asbestos Forum news release [pdf]. Asbestos in Schools
       news release. BBC News Online. Liverpool Daily News. Daily Post. Solicitors
       Journal. The Independent.

To top