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Personal Injury - Mesothelioma - Fatal Accidents Act
The claimant brought a claim for damages as a dependant of her deceased husband, who contracted malignant mesothelioma from which he died on 14 September 2011 at the age of 70 years.
10 July 2013
High Court, Queen's Bench Division
Mr John Leighton Williams QC
Between 1966 and 1986 the deceased was employed by the defendant. His duties included burning asbestos off pipes and as a result he contracted malignant mesothelioma.
Liability was admitted by the defendant in that they negligently exposed the deceased to asbestos. On 21 November 2012, judgment was entered against the defendant on the issue of liability. Therefore, this case concerned assessing the appropriate damages which should be awarded to the claimant.
For the majority of his life the deceased had been in good health. However, the same could not be said for his wife who was significantly disabled. The claimant relied heavily on the deceased for care and support. In evidence, the claimant said that the deceased had been able to care for her until the last four months of his heath, at which point his health rapidly declined.
The claimant brought this claim under the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, as amended, and on behalf of the deceased's estate, under the provisions of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.
Judgment for £428,061 was apportioned as follows:
(1) £95,685 under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934: and
(2) £332,376 under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
The Judicial College Guidelines put a value of £50,000-£90,000 on mesothelioma cases, suggesting that relevant factors to be considered included the duration of pain and suffering, and the extent and effects of surgery. After considering all the evidence the claimant was awarded £77,500 for pain suffering and loss of amenity. Whist it was considered that the majority of people who suffer from mesothelioma are in their fifties, sixties and seventies, age, and the extent of life lost should also be considered relevant factors.