Families win asbestos payout appeal
Two families have won groundbreaking claims to compensation after loved ones died from cancer following exposure to "low level" asbestos.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the relatives of Dianne Willmore and Enid Costello, who both fell victim to malignant mesothelioma.
The ruling is expected to pave the way for similar claims from many other cancer sufferers exposed to "low levels" of asbestos.
Mrs Willmore, from north Wales, died in October 2009 aged 49, the day after a judge said she was entitled to £240,000 compensation.
The award, made against Knowsley Council for negligently exposing her to asbestos fibres, was frozen while appeals took place.
The mother-of-two contracted the cancer after apparently being exposed to asbestos dust while a pupil at Bowring School in Huyton in the 1970s. She later moved to Wrexham.
Mrs Costello also fell victim to mesothelioma and died in January 2006, aged 74. Her daughter Karen Sienkiewicz initially lost a county court claim to compensation made on behalf of her late mother's estate, but won in the appeal court.
Mrs Costello was said to have breathed in dust containing asbestos when she was a secretary at a packaging factory in Ellesmere Port. The compensation claim was against her former employer Greif (UK) Ltd.
The Court of Appeal ruled compensation should be paid in both cases, but Knowsley Council and Greif UK fought the rulings in the Supreme Court - where seven justices have now unanimously dismissed their appeals.
Knowsley and Greif had argued they could only be held liable if it could be proved they were responsible for causing exposure to asbestos that had at least "doubled the risk" of mesothelioma. Rejecting the argument, the Supreme Court ruled there was no requirement for a claimant to show a doubling of risk.