A round up of recent news relating to the asbestos gene, Atomic Veterans Litigation, EL policy trigger litigation, noise claims and pleural plaques.

  • Asbestos gene - researchers have reported in the publication, Nature Genetics, that people with gene mutation BAP1 have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma and melanoma of the eye. Individuals with the mutation have a considerably higher chance of developing mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos than those without the mutation. The researchers have suggested that their findings will help to identify individuals at high risk.
  • Atomic Veterans Litigation - the Supreme Court hearing is due to commence on 14 November 2011, following the Court of Appeal’s decision in January 2011 that the majority of claims had not been brought within the limitation period. Between 1952 and 1958, the UK carried out a series of atmospheric tests of thermonuclear devices in the region of the Pacific Ocean. A group of 1,011 Claimants are claiming damages for the adverse consequences to health which they allege have resulted from exposure to ionising radiation deriving from the tests.
  • Byssinosis - the case of Barnes v Werneth Ring Mills Ltd [2009] has recently been reported. The Claimant, who received just over £50,000, developed byssinosis after breathing in cotton dust whilst working for the Defendant between 1964 and 2002. Byssinosis is a respiratory disease caused by exposure to cotton and is very rare these days. However, this case illustrates that byssinosis claims are not extinct.
  • EL policy trigger litigation - the Supreme Court appeal hearing is listed to commence on 5 December 2011. In July 2011 the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was granted permission by the Court to intervene in the appeals and make written and oral submissions. The Court of Appeal decision in October 2010 had serious implications for mesothelioma victims and the long tail EL market. Kennedys’ partners, Kieron West and Mark Burton are representing two of the local authorities.
  • Noise claims - a refuse collector is reported to have received an out of court settlement of over £8,000 after working alongside loud bin lorries and recycling machinery without ear protection. This industry is not traditionally associated with hearing loss claims. It is not known whether the local authority obtained engineering evidence prior to settling the claim. Potential defendants and their insurers will want to monitor any further developments in this area carefully.
  • Pleural plaques - the judgment of the Supreme Court relating to pleural plaques in Scotland is anticipated on 12 October 2011. Scotland has restored the right to pleural plaques compensation, subject to this ongoing challenge to the legality of the legislation brought by a group of insurers. Their appeal against the decision of the Court of Session was heard in June. The Northern Ireland Attorney General has intervened in this case.