Duncan Lewis

Romford Office

Crime and Civil cases

house 40 staff

Insurer to pay for hospice costs of victims of asbestos related illnesses

Date: (28 August 2012)    |    

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An insurer has dropped an appeal against a landmark judgment which required an engineering company to contribute towards the hospice care costs of a former south-east London-based worker exposed to asbestos, family lawyers said.
The last minute change of plans and dropping out of challenging the judgment is being seen as opening ways for hospices across the country to benefit from the ruling which had held insurer liable for hospice care costs of deceased worker.
Several other claims could now be in the offing by hospices with cash crunch seeking reliefs from companies whose former workers were dying from asbestos-related illnesses.
Most of the victims were working at power-stations, shipyards and building sites, where asbestos was common as insulation and a fire-
Most victims are ex-workers at power stations, shipyards and building sites, where asbestos was prevalent as insulation and a fire-resistant.
The case of James Wilson was the test case in asbestos related illness. He worked at the Deptford power station, south east London, in the 1950’s when he fell victim to mesothelioma, an asbestos-related disease which may not be diagnosed until 50 years after being exposed to asbestos.
Last year a High Court judge decided that Foster Wheeler, the company which employed Willson, should pay all the costs of his care at St Joseph's Hospice, Hackney, which would otherwise, would have had to be met out of charity donations.
Willson, who started working at the power station in 1951, was regularly exposed to asbestos while erecting new boilers. More than 50 years later, in 2006, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He spent 23 days at the hospice before dying there in March 2007 aged 76.
The engineering company's insurer, Royal & Sun Alliance, started proceedings to appeal against the ruling but the appeal was dropped days before it was due to go ahead, said lawyers.
One of the lawyers said that the case provides a legal basis for hospices to be repaid for the tremendously valuable work they do where their care has been needed as a result of someone else's wrongdoing.
The Royal & Sun Alliance confirmed that it was not going to proceed with the appeal. An RSA spokesman said that it was always been RSA’s policy to pay the costs of hospice care. The claimant had no costs liability at all and nor did the family.