Whether employees had suffered actionable personal injury – of possible interest to employers’ liability insurers
The claimant employees were exposed to complex halogenated platinum salts and as a result had developed sensitivity to platinum. Since this sensitivity can, with further exposure, lead to an allergy, the employees were removed from their regular posts and eventually handed in their notice. Much of the case involved a comparison between platinum sensitisation and pleural plaques. The claimants sought to argue that they had sustained actionable injury because the sensitivity had led directly to a reduction in their earning capacity.
Jay J held that there was no actionable injury in tort in this case. The progression to an allergy would not occur if the employee is removed from the source of the sensitisation. Although such a removal may result in economic loss for the employee, that is not the same as an injury. The sensitivity in itself is not harmful. Accordingly, the claim in tort failed (as did the alternative claim in contract, because there had been no personal injury – only economic loss suffered without personal injury).