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Asbestos Has Caused a Century of Suffering - And Yet it Continues

The dangers of asbestos have been well known for nigh on a century, yet the legacy of exposure still causes untold suffering to this day. In a case on point, the family of a man who died from asbestos-related cancer more than 50 years after he worked on a building site amidst clouds of asbestos dust received six-figure compensation.

The widower was 80 and the primary carer for his disabled son when he died from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs almost invariably associated with asbestos exposure. Despite the extreme pain he endured prior to his death, he was able to vividly describe the dust-laden conditions in which he worked on a construction site for about 18 months between 1962 and 1964.

Following his death, his family launched proceedings against the successor of a construction company that was alleged to have employed him when he was exposed to asbestos. There was no dispute about the fact of his exposure or that it had caused his fatal illness. There were, however, finely balanced issues concerning the identity of his employer at the critical time. From contemporaneous tax and other records, it appeared that his employment may have been transferred from one company to another during the relevant period.

Following negotiations, however, those complex issues were overcome and a £175,000 settlement of the claim agreed. Approving that very sensible compromise, the High Court noted that the majority of the sum was to compensate for the loss of the services that the man had provided to his son with the utmost devotion. The Court hoped that the settlement would provide some respite to the man's daughter, who had dutifully stepped in to look after her brother.