After a three-year legal battle, the High Court has ruled that a mesothelioma victim’s former employer must pay for his hospice care.
Mesothelioma is a deadly disease, almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. It can manifest itself decades after exposure and is usually at an advanced stage by the time symptoms appear. The man died of the condition after being diagnosed in 2006 and spent the final three months of his life at the St Joseph’s Hospice in East London.
The man had worked for engineering firm Foster Wheeler at Deptford Power Station more than 50 years ago and the Court heard that it was during the course of his employment there that he was exposed to asbestos fibres. The judge found his former employer liable and ordered the firm to pay £10,000 directly to the Hospice.
Judge Thornton said the man was ‘provided with essential palliative care which it was both reasonable and necessary for him to receive given his terminal decline in health as a result of the malignant mesothelioma for which the defendant was wholly and directly responsible in law’.
Ruling that the claim could include ‘the reasonable value of gratuitous services’, he awarded the sum to the Hospice.
This ruling, if it is not the subject of a successful appeal, will mean that in appropriate cases hospices will be able to be recompensed for the valuable work they do free of charge.