We have previously reported that recent cases arising from asbestos exposure have moved away from the “traditional” model of heavy industries such as shipbuilding. The recent case of Winifred Thacker, decided by the Court of Session, is no exception.
Winifred Thacker was employed as a secretary by the Atlas Steel Foundry. She was not exposed to asbestos by the work that she carried out. As a secretary she required to walk from her office to the foundry in order to deliver memos. She also had to record the information from the clocking in machine. She was employed in this role from 1961 until 1967.
Mrs Thacker was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that takes many years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres. It is a fatal condition. Mrs Thacker passed away in September 2014 following her diagnosis.
A claim was brought against Mrs Thacker’s employers (the defenders). It was denied on the basis that she worked too far away and so would not have come into contact with the asbestos fibres. The case was heard by Lady Wise.
Lady Wise did not accept the position of the defenders. In her judgement she stated that the company should have taken all reasonable steps to suppress the asbestos dust but had failed to do so. She accepted that Mrs Thacker was “regularly and frequently” exposed to it during her employment with the defenders. Lady Wise found in favour of Mrs Thacker and awarded compensation in the sum of £360,000 to her family.
The decision of Lady Wise reiterates the shift that not only those immersed in the industry such as welders, ship builders, painters and joiners will be exposed to asbestos. It also confirms that there is a duty on the employer to suppress the asbestos dust at source. This is the first time in Scots law that this duty has been confirmed by a Court.
At Jackson Boyd we have a wealth of experience in dealing with asbestos related cases. Our helpful guide may assist anyone looking or considering making a claim. If you have suffered injury as a result of exposure to asbestos, please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.