Case News (Haxton v Philips Electronics UK Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 4 Court of Appeal, Civil Division)

17 February 2014

Mrs Haxton had developed mesothelioma as a consequence of handling her husband's work clothes which had become impregnated with asbestos fibres during his employment with Philips Electronics UK Ltd.. After her husband's death from mesothelioma, Mrs Haxton brought two claims - one as a dependent on her husband's estate and a second claim in her own right. Liability and damages were agreed except in respect of her personal claim where she sought a greater level of damages based on the life expectancy she would have had but for the defendant's negligence that had led to her  developing mesothelioma.

The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, allowed her appeal and found that there was nothing in the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 that prevented Mrs Haxton from recovering the diminution in value of her right to damages for loss of dependency that had resulted from the negligence of the defendant as a head of loss in her personal action. The 1976 Act conferred a statutory right to recover for the loss of dependency and, in her claim under that Act, she could not recover more than her actual loss. However, there was no reason why the diminution in value of that right that had resulted from the negligence of the defendant could not be recovered as a head of loss in the claimant's personal action.. Applying established law, it was reasonably foreseeable that a curtailment of life might lead to a diminution in the value of a litigation claim and if a claimant had such a claim, the wrongdoer had to take the victim as he found him. It had to have been foreseeable to the defendant that the claimant would have dependency rights which would be diminished as a result of their negligence, therefore, any contention of remoteness The claimant would be awarded the additional sum of £200,000  to the award of £310,000.

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