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The courts had to consider whether the claimant's common law dependency claim in her own right was a recoverable head of damage.
22 January 2014, Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
The claimant's husband was employed by the defendant, Philips Electronics UK Ltd. As a result of being exposed to asbestos, the claimant's husband contracted mesothelioma and passed away. The claimant (who was never employed by the defendant) was also diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of washing her husbands work clothing.
Proceedings were settled by consent in respect of the claimant's capacity as a widow and administratrix of her husband's estate and as a dependant under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. Damages for the claimant's loss of dependency were calculated on the basis of her life expectancy, which was significantly reduced due to the mesothelioma.
The claimant also issued proceedings in her own right for damages for negligence and breach of statutory duty. Liability was admitted and damages agreed with the exception of the claimant's future dependency claim.
The critical question in this case was whether there was any reason of principle or policy which should deprive the claimant from recovering damages which represent the loss she has in fact suffered as a result of the curtailment of her life by the admittedly negligent action of the defendant.
It was held that it was reasonably foreseeable that a curtailment of life may lead to a diminution in the value of a litigation claim and if a claimant has such a claim, the wrongdoer must take the victim as he finds him. It must have been foreseeable to this defendant that the claimant would have dependency rights which would be diminished as a result of their negligence.
As a result the appeal was upheld and the claimant was awarded the additional sum of £200,000.
A really helpful case which affirms that a wrongdoer must take his victim as he finds them.