University Boiler Room Worker Wins Asbestosis Compensation

Justice for asbestosis victims is not all about money and, for many, their principal satisfaction lies in bringing to book those who are responsible.

In one case, a retired electrician won £1,552 in damages from a university after successfully proving that it was in part responsible for the ill health that had blighted his old age.

The man, aged 87, had worked in the university's boiler room in the 1980s. He had been diagnosed with disabling fibrosis of the lungs and had managed to establish that 2.3 per cent of his lifetime exposure to asbestos had occurred whilst he was employed by the university. His compensation represented that percentage of the full liability value of his claim, which was £67,500.

In dismissing the university's challenge to the award, the Court of Appeal rejected arguments that its contribution to the man's condition was negligible and had in fact made no difference to his symptoms. It was regrettable that the legal costs run up by the university in defending the case would greatly exceed the amount of the man's award, but the Court noted that the case should serve as an encouragement to employers to settle such claims at an early stage.