Successful Supreme Court Ruling for Victims of Mesothelioma
The families of two women who both died as a result of Malignant Mesothelioma have won their claims for compensation after the Supreme Court ruled in their favour in March 2011.
Mrs Wilmore was exposed to asbestos whilst a pupil at school and died from Mesothelioma in 2009 aged 49.
Mrs Costello also suffered malignant Mesothelioma following being exposed to asbestos at work. Mrs Costello died in 2006 aged 74.
The family of Diane Wilmore were found to be entitled to £240,000 compensation after bringing an action against Knowsley Council. However, before the Supreme Court the Council argued that Mrs Wilmore had failed to show that the Council had exposed her to asbestos and that it had at least doubled the risk of her contracting malignant Mesotheliioma.
Knowsley Council’s argument was unanimously dismissed by the Supreme Court. It was held that there was no such requirement for Claimant’s to show such doubling of risks.
Background to the cases
Mrs Wilmore, mother of two, contracted Mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos dust whilst a pupil at Bowing School in Houton during the 1970’s.
It was whilst working as a Secretary at a packaging factory in Ellesmere Port that Mrs Costello was said to have been exposed to asbestos dust.
The Court of Appeal had ruled in favour of both Claimant’s . The Defendants argued in the Supreme Court that they were not at fault unless it could be proved they were responsible for causing exposure to asbestos that had at least doubled the risk of contracting Mesothelioma.
The argument was rejected in the Supreme Court holding that whether exposure was significant enough to determine liability is to be decided on a case by case basis, taking into account the facts of each particular case.
The outcome in the cases of Diane Wilmore –v- Knowsley MBC and Sienkiewicz – Costello –v- Greif (UK) Ltd is optimistic for other people who may have only been exposed to small amounts of asbestos dust during their lives yet are unfortunate to contract the disease of Mesothelioma.
Mrs Wilmore’s case is of particular interest in that it did not relate to a claim in respect of occupational exposure but to a claim made by a former pupil of a Local Authority ran school. Sadly, it is a fact that asbestos and asbestos products were extensively used in the construction of many public buildings including schools and hospitals throughout the 1950’s up until the 1970’s.
It maybe that these cases will pave the way for other potential Claimant’s seeking to attach liability for negligence to Defendants, following relatively low dose exposures to asbestos.
It is believed that Mrs Wilmore’s claim is the first successful case involving a school pupil.