In a successful BLM asbestos-related lung cancer case, the High Court has today held that where the claimant has been exposed to asbestos in breach of duty by more than one defendant, and no defendant is responsible for more than half the total cumulative exposure, damages should be apportioned in line with the relative share of exposure. Damages in asbestos-related lung cancer cases are divisible.
The deceased died from asbestos-related lung cancer in January 2013. He was exposed to asbestos by ten employers. Of these, six were sued by the claimant. The deceased worked for these six (the defendants) between 1961 and 1974. Asbestos exposure with the defendants accounted for 35.2% of the deceased’s total asbestos exposure. Liability was admitted. If the defendants were liable in full, damages totalled £175,000. 35.2% of damages equalled £61,600. The sole issue for the High Court was whether the defendants were liable for damages in full (as the claimant argued), or in proportion to their 32.5% share of exposure (as the defendants submitted).
As Jay J observed, this issue has not been dealt with by previous authority.
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