High Court judge rules in favour of daughter’s bid for compensation after dad died of asbestos exposure

Crown Court
Crown Court

A HIGH Court judge has ruled in favour of a woman who launched a compensation claim after her father died from asbestos poisoning.

Retired painter and labourer Robert Rudd, of Sharp Crescent, West View, Hartlepool, died aged 81 in 2010 after he was struck down by deadly asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

Mr Rudd had worked at the town’s Steetley Magnesite works in the early 1960s, when he was exposed to the poisonous dust.

His daughter, June Dunn, launched a compensation claim on behalf of his estate, alleging that his employers had negligently allowed to him to come into contact with the poison.

Last year, a senior High Court official, Master Eastman, ruled in Mrs Dunn’s favour, saying Carillion Construction (Contracts), legally responsible as successor to Mr Rudd’s previous employer, had no viable defence and is liable to pay damages.

But the company appealed to the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Lawyers for the building giant argued that Mrs Dunn’s case was not strong and Master Eastman was wrong to say the company had no chance of defending the claim.

But Lady Justice Black refused the bid to appeal, upholding the right of Mrs Dunn and her father’s estate to damages, with a payout figure yet to be assessed.

The judge said there was evidence that Mr Rudd had been employed in a works where asbestos dust was present.

Carillion barrister John Williams argued there was no evidence that Mr Rudd worked with welders, fitters or laggers, where he would have been more likely to be exposed.

He said it was not an open-and-shut case and as a painter, it would be unlikely that Mr Rudd worked near those disturbing asbestos lagging and, while described as a labourer, it was unclear how much labouring he had done.

But Lady Justice Black said even if the case had been allowed to go to trial “it would be difficult to dispel the inference that he was exposed to significant quantities of asbestos while working for the defendant’s predecessor between 1961 and 1964”.