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Billingham & Anor v John Barnsley & Sons Ltd & Ors [2013] EWHC 520 (QB) - 13/03/13


This was a claim by the executrixes of the estate of a man who had died from malignant mesothelioma as a consequence of exposure to asbestos. The question at issue was whether the Second Defendant in this action was liable.

On the facts, it was held that the Second Defendant was liable. The exposure to asbestos had been far more than de minimis. Any reasonable employer in 1968 or 1969 - when the exposure occurred - should have known that exposure to asbestos fibres in the quantity present in this case posed a serious risk of injury. Dust containing asbestos fibres was allowed to stand on flat surfaces at the Second Defendant's premises; the Second Defendant should have known that that posed a serious risk of injury and taken steps to minimise the risk, e.g. wetting, clearing off or the provision of respirators.