The claimant was the widow of a man who suffered from mesothelioma and died. Before diagnosis he had told doctors that he had not been exposed to asbestos but when he was diagnosed he told them that he had been on one occasion. That was during the course of his employment loading a lorry with asbestos contained in bags of woven material that allowed a lot of asbestos dust to escape into the atmosphere. He was unsure of the date but estimated it falling in the second half of his employment.

The Judge held that the deceased’s exposure to asbestos on a single occasion occurred while the Asbestos Regulations 1969 applied to the defendant’s business and as a result the defendant was liable in damages.

Maggs -v- Anstey. Mr Justice Roderick Evans, 30 March 2007, EW8C515 (QB).

Sleeping driver successfully sues employers

The claimant appealed against a decision that the employer was not liable where the claimant had been driving a van on a motorway accompanied by his manager when he lost control and suffered serious injuries. He had been awake continuously for around 19 hours before the accident and had complained of being tired during the journey.

Before the accident, he had been exchanging text messages on a mobile phone. He alleged that the employer permitted him to drive when he had been too tired and that he must have fallen asleep at the wheel. The Judge held that he had not been frank about his driving and that it had been his inattention through using his mobile phone, and not falling asleep that had caused the accident.

The Court of Appeal held that the Judge had been entitled to find that the claimant had lacked frankness and remembered more than he had said about the journey. The Judge implied that he had been telling lies and his reasoning suggested that those lies compelled a conclusion that the use of the mobile phone was the probable explanation for the accident.

On the evidence, the court held that the claimant had shown that he had fallen asleep and that had caused the accident, and the Judge had been wrong to find otherwise. However, the claimant had to bear some personal responsibility as he must have realised that he was at risk of falling asleep. Contributory negligence was assessed at 33 per cent.

Eyres -v- Atkinson’s Kitchens & Bedrooms Ltd. Court of Appeal, 24 April 2007, EWCA Civ365