Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today described the judgement of the Supreme Court that people exposed to asbestos could again make claims on insurers as ‘crucial for many older industrial workers on Teesside’.
The Supreme Court has today (March 28th 2012) made a ruling which could allow thousands of insurance claims by families of people who died after exposure to asbestos. The court placed insurance liability at the time an employee was exposed to asbestos, not when symptoms appeared. Relatives of workers who died of the cancer mesothelioma are now free again to make claims on policies dating from the 1940s.
The new ruling by a panel of five Supreme Court justices states that the disease can be said to have been “sustained” by an employee in the period when it was caused or initiated. This is seen by experts to be crucial in that asbestosis can take years to develop, and even though the material has been phased out, there are still many thousands of people who are risk of potentially developing asbestosis.
Tom said “For many years, the big insurance companies have been putting legal obstacle after legal obstacle in front of individuals and families who wanted to make claims against insurance companies who represented their former employers. Now this has been set aside. This was disgraceful and shameful behaviour.
This ruling now means people who are yet to be given the devastating news that they have the deadly illness, but knew they were exposed to asbestos in their working life can now be comforted by knowing that their families can get access to justice and receive the financial security they need. This is crucial for many on Teesside who, in their former working lives worked in industries like shipbuilding, steel and chemicals where asbestos was once widely used. This is one small victory for these workers, and I hope very much that we do not get any rogue insurers trying yet again to try and reverse this judgement on appeal.”