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As previously reported, a landmark ruling has paved the way for thousands of insurance claims to be brought by the relatives of workers who died after being exposed to asbestos. The Supreme Court ruled that insurance liability begins when an employee is exposed to asbestos, not when mesothelioma cancer first appears, which can be decades after a worker is first exposed to asbestos fibres.
Now another ground breaking case, a parent entity has been held liable by an employee of a former subsidiary. A High Court judgement found in favour of Mr. Chandler last year. The Court of Appeal in London last week upheld David Chandler’s claim against Cape Plc, the parent entity of a company for which he worked more than 50 years ago and from whose factory he suffered heavy asbestos exposure.
CapeProducts, the subsidiary for which he worked, was dissolved years ago and he could not claim on insurance for asbestosis, with which he was diagnosed in 2007. This is the first case where a parent company has been held liable by an employee of a subsidiary and it is again predicted that this case will set precedent for a flood of similar claims. Therefore, Multinational companies with subsidiaries will have to structure themselves with more care in the light of a judgement on a case brought by a 71-year-old man suffering from asbestosis.
“It will apply to any situation where dangerous substances or processes are going on that the parent company ought to have known about, and should have known that what was going on was systemically risky,” said Robert Glancy QC, who specialises in personal injury cases.
Jonathan Hitchin, a litigator at Allen & Overy, said: “My advice to clients would be, ‘You may well be legally responsibly where your other group companies did things.’”
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Published Apr 30, 2012