Ex-Dockworkers Win Compensation

Asbestos disease compensation case

30.12.2008

Two former dockworkers from Liverpool who developed asbestos-related diseases have won compensation from the Government.

Edward Rice, whose claim was brought by his wife Winifred after his death from mesothelioma in 2000 aged 67, and Robert Thompson, also 67, who has diffuse pleural thickening, both worked for Clan Line unloading asbestos.

They had sued the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, whose predecessors took over the liabilities of the National Dock Labour Board (NDLB) after it was wound up in 1989.

It had been agreed that Mr Rice's family should receive £138,965 and Mr Thompson should get £25,329 if the High Court ruled in their favour on liability.

Solicitor Neil Fisher said: "This decision will help other dockers and their families to bring claims for compensation without having to identify individual shipping companies, many of whom no longer exist."

Mr Justice Silber, sitting in the High Court in London, ruled that the NDLB, by its breach of duty, materially increased the risk of the claimants suffering harm which was foreseeable.

He said: "The the claimants would have refused to handle any asbestos dust without being provided with respirators and this would have meant that the material risk of either of them suffering from an asbestos-related injury would not have occurred or would have been much less."

Copyright © Press Association 2008

Adrian Budgen from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This is an important decision that paves the way for others to recover compensation. The Government should now accept full responsibility, without further ado."