Chandler v Cape - A fantastic result for mesothlioma sufferers
The case of the mesothelioma sufferer has been hit fairly hard recently, what with Jonathan Djanogly's snickering at the pain the sufferers of this disease experience, at the same time as he's attempting to remove their opportunity to have their cases resolved on a no win, no fee basis. You can read our blog about it here: http://www.jmw.co.uk/blog/mesothelioma-sufferers-dealt-a-blow-as-positive-laspo-amendment-gets-overturned
As if to emphasise how different mesothelioma cases are to your average PI case, today sees the resolution of yet another Court of Appeal mesothelioma case that defeats another attempt by employers to avoid liability.
The Court of Appeal has upheld the first instance judgement in the case of Chandler v Cape, finding in favour of the claimant. In brief, the defendant, Cape Plc, is a large multinational corporation that set up many subsidiaries. Most of these organisations worked with asbestos and saw their workers exposed to it in harmful levels, many of whom have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. A lot of these subsidiary companies are no longer trading, making pursuit of compensation that much harder.
While Cape had set up a form of compensation for those suffering workers, their awards amounted to a small percentage of what their case was actually worth, and did not make the appropriate allowances for the devastating effects mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can have on its sufferers.
This decision now allows those wishing to bring a case against Cape to pursue cases against the parent company that has neglectfully allowed its subsidiaries to expose their employees to unsafe levels of asbestos.
In other words, this is a wonderful victory for the worker, for mesothelioma sufferers and their families. It emphasises that parent companies cannot distance themselves from what goes on in their subsidiaries and have to be held accountable for dangerous working practices they undertake.
The Court of Appeal judgement underlines this, by highlighting four areas in which the circumstances of the Cape case meant that it, as a parent company, was responsible for the health and safety of its subsidiaries' employees; the work of parent and subsidiary were the same in one respect; Cape had (or should have had) superior knowledge of the health and safety requirements of asbestos; Cape should have been aware of the actions of its subsidiaries; Cape should have foreseen that its superior knowledge on the health and safety of asbestos would be needed for its subsidiaries' employees' protection.
One of our cases has been resting on the outcome of this case; our client's husband was a lorry driver employed by a company in the 1950s. He made twice weekly visits to the site where Mr Chandler worked as part of his job, and was exposed to harmful levels of asbestos both there and elsewhere. The defendants are the company formerly employing our client's husband, and Cape.
In a world where the multi-national is often rendered king, it is pleasing to think that the balance may be redressed and individuals can get the support and compensation they deserve.