Lawyers acting for asbestos claimants will this week fight the insurance industry in the Court of Appeal for their clients’ continued right to compensation for an asbestos related condition called Pleural Plaques.

A Court of Appeal challenge by insurers, Norwich Union, could deprive thousands of people of their right to damages who were negligently exposed to asbestos and who have now been diagnosed with Pleural Plaques. The hearing in London from 14 – 17 November, follows the defeat of the insurer’s attempt to end compensation for pleural plaques in the High Court earlier this year.

Ronald Page, aged 76, from Chessington, Surrey, is a former London Underground worker now suffering from Pleural Plaques. His case is one of thousands that stand to be affected by the outcome of the Appeal. His job was to remove noise reduction equipment which consisted of panels of white and brown asbestos from the tunnels of the London Underground. He comments: “Members of my family have died from asbestos related cancer. The anxiety of knowing that I have pleural plaques and could develop a deadly disease is with me every waking moment.”

Pleural Plaques are a sign of irreversible damage to the lining of the lung

Pleural Plaques are recognised by medical experts as a sign of irreversible damage to the lining of the lung caused by a history of exposure to asbestos which carries with it an increased risk of malignant disease such as the deadly cancer mesothelioma.

According to insurance industry estimates, asbestos related claims are expected to cost UK insurers up to £10 billion over the next 40 years, with pleural plaques claims accounting for over £1 billion. With an estimated 14,000 pleural plaques claims each year, these cases account for about 75% of all asbestos claims, with approximately £25 million compensation being paid out by insurers. The outcome of the appeal, if the insurers are successful, could lead to savings of up to £1 billion in total for the insurance industry.

Thompsons Solicitors specialise in representing asbestos victims

Thompsons Solicitors, specialists in representing asbestos victims, were involved in successfully opposing the original High Court challenge by the insurers. This latest hearing also involves a cross appeal by Thompsons against the High Court ruling that the level of compensation for Pleural Plaques should be reduced.

Ian McFall, national head of asbestos litigation for Thompsons Solicitors, explains: “The insurance industry is motivated by its need to protect profits and shareholder interests.”

“For over 20 years the Courts have accepted that Pleural Plaques together with the increased risk of future disease and related anxiety constitutes an injury and should therefore be compensated. The majority of people who develop any type of asbestos-related disease, including Pleural Plaques, do so because their employers were negligent in failing to protect them from exposure to asbestos. This case is about the right of those people to continue to receive awards of compensation for the injury they have suffered.”