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Pleural plaque not allowed as grounds for compensation in UK

Article from: BBC, October 17, 2007

Hundreds of Scottish workers suffering from an asbestos-related condition will not be able to claim compensation after a ruling by Law Lords.

They ruled the condition called pleural plaques, a scarring of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos, is technically not a disease as it has no symptoms.

Therefore it should not be open to compensation claims, Law Lords said.

Union leaders attacked the decision, saying it would lead to "massive savings" for insurance firms.

Unions had appealed against an earlier ruling by the Court of Appeal in January 2006.

Pleural plaques are areas of thick scar tissue which form in the chest lining and diaphragm and can be caused by asbestos exposure.

Bill Kidd, a regional Nationalist MSP for Glasgow, said: "The SNP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are all standing strongly beside those workers affected.

"The House of Lords is crumbling and selling out to the businesses and insurance companies."

Agnes Dixon, who suffers from pleural plaques, said the decision was a huge blow.

She added: "For the House of Lords to turn down compensation is absolutely shocking.

"I am living with this condition on a daily basis. I just want to be able to see my five grandchildren become adults."

Shipyard workers

Serious respiratory diseases including mesothelioma and lung cancer have been diagnosed in 400 men - most of them former Clydeside shipyard workers.

But the ruling means that insurance companies should not be liable over pleural plaque claims, as it has no physical symptoms other than the scarring to the lungs.

The case dates back to November 2004 when 10 men went to court seeking compensation from insurance companies which wanted to stop payments.

In February 2005, the High Court originally ruled that people suffering from pleural plaques should receive compensation.

It found there was an increased risk of developing other asbestos-related conditions and that having the plaques caused anxiety.

However, it reduced payment from between £5,000 and £15,000, to £3,000 and £7,000.


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