A widow has successfully appealed against a decision dismissing her fatal accident claim following the death of her husband.
The woman’s husband had worked for a heating company between 1965 and 1968. As part of the work, he was exposed to asbestos.
In 1970, regulations came into force which obliged employers to put safeguards in place to protect workers from asbestos.
The same year a technical data note was published containing guidance as to whether asbestos levels were high enough to present a danger to health.
The man became ill with mesothelioma and died in 2016.
His widow took legal action against his employers.
The judge said that the legal authorities on the issue held that an employer had only breached its duty of care if it was reasonably foreseeable that the levels of asbestos led to an unacceptable risk of injury.
In this case, the employer had carried out the relevant measures to check the asbestos exposure was not exceeding safe levels based on the standards of the time. The employer was therefore not liable for damages.
However, the widow has had that decision overturned in the Court of Appeal.
It held that the judge had been wrong to rule that the minimum levels of asbestos exposure had not been exceeded, because the authorities he quoted should not be seen as a universal test of foreseeability in mesothelioma cases.
The employer had not provided evidence about the state of its knowledge in the 1960s, so it was not possible for the court to determine liability.
The case was remitted for retrial.
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