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Negligence

Causation — Asbestos exposure — Deceased developing lung cancer after exposure to asbestos dust while working for successive employers — Severity of lung cancer not dependent on extent of exposure to asbestos but cumulative exposure over all employments significantly increasing risk of developing lung cancer — Executor claiming damages in negligence against some but not all former employers — Liability admitted by all defendants — Whether lung cancer caused by asbestos inhalation legally indistinguishable from mesothelioma — Whether defendants each liable for all damage suffered or in proportion to increase in risk for which individual defendant responsible

1 March 2016

Heneghan v Manchester Dry Docks Ltd and others [2016] EWCA Civ 86

CA: Lord Dyson MR, Tomlinson, Sales LJJ

The claimant, acting as the executor of the estate of his deceased father who had died of lung cancer, brought an action for breach of duty on behalf of the deceased’s estate and his widow, against six former employers alleging that the exposure to asbestos by each employer had caused his lung cancer. Earlier employers responsible for the deceased’s exposure to asbestos were not sued. All six defendants having admitted liability, judgment was entered against them by consent. On the issue of damages the judge concluded that lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos was indistinguishable in law from mesothelioma, which like lung cancer was an indivisible disease in respect of which causation could not be established either by the but for test or...

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