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In an encouraging decision for asbestos victims, a steeplejack who was exposed to very high levels of the substance whilst working on chimneys, cooling towers and power station flare stacks has been awarded substantial compensation by the High Court.
The man, aged 63, sued a company for which he worked in the 1980s and 1990s and the Court accepted his evidence as to the extent of his exposure, as a result of which he has developed pleural plaques in his lungs that cast a shadow over his future. There is a 3 per cent chance that he will eventually develop mesothelioma, an invariably fatal form of lung cancer linked to asbestos. He also suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In awarding the man £15,717 in damages, the Court noted that the amount had been reduced to take account of the fact that his breathing capacity has been affected by his long-term smoking habit and on account of the possibility that he might also have been exposed to asbestos while working for another employer. He was also given the right to claim further damages in the future if he develops mesothelioma or other serious health problems related to asbestos.