We have previously reported on the Mesothelioma Bill which is currently proceeding through Parliament for consultation. The Bill has now been subjected to its Third Reading in the House of Lords and will now go to the House of Commons for their scrutiny. When the Bill has gone through a further 3 stages of consultation in the House of Commons, it will receive Royal Assent and will become the Mesothelioma Act 2013.
Reading this article, it may be difficult to comprehend how an Act of Parliament that is not yet in force could have an effect on you or your family. However, this is certainly the case for a local family from Blackburn. The family of a lady in Blackburn were last week awarded damages in the sum of Â£48,000.00. The lady, who died from Oesophageal Cancer, had worked at Baxter’s of Blackburn fitting gas masks in the 1940s for use in the Second World War it emerged; and as a result was exposed to asbestos fibres. The case was brought against the Ministry of Defence by the lady’s daughter as the sufferer herself had been too ill to bring a claim in the later years of her life. The case went all the way to the High Court, and Judge Gary Burrell found that the lady’s quality of life had been “significantly compromised’ after she found out she had multiple calcified pleural plaques caused by exposure to Asbestos. Significantly, the asbestos exposure was not deemed to have shortened her life but was judged to have compromised her quality of life.
In terms of the damages that were awarded, the total was made up of Â£40,000 for her pain, suffering and loss of amenity and the remainder accounted for the level of care and assistance that she required in her later years.
This case brings to light the approach that the Courts are willing to take compensate victims and their families, if either they themselves, or a close family member have been exposed to Asbestos and personal injury or other loss has been the result. The Asbestos needn’t have been the sole cause of death, this can surely only be a positive in seeking justice for victims and their families. Cases like these will build up a body of case law and, in combination with the Mesothelioma Act 2013, more victims and their families will get the justice that they deserve.
Baxter’s of Blackburn was not the only warehouse of this kind in East Lancashire during the mid 1940’s, and as a result there may be many more cases where a victim/victim’s family could be awarded compensation for asbestos illness . If you or a family member are concerned about the effects of an industrial disease and would like to discuss the possibility of making a cliam for compensation, please do not hesitate to call one of our experienced personal injury solicitors who will be happy to advise you free of charge.
By Nick Molyneux, Industrial Disease Solicitor