The British House of Lords in a recent decision has take a step backward in time and has ruled that those who suffer pleural plaques (scarring of the lungs) as a result of asbestos exposure are unable to claim compensation. Parliament declared, " If the pleural plaques are not in themselves damage, do they become damage when aggregated with the risk which they evidence or the anxiety which that risk causes? In principle, neither the risk of future injury nor anxiety at the prospect of future injury is actionable. "
The decision widely reported in the British press, has been declared a major step backward in time. British Unions have strongly sounded their dismay. Unite Joint General Secretary, Derek Simpson said: "This is a harsh decision which will affect thousands of people with pleural plaques now and in the future." "The judgment will disadvantage many of our members who have been exposed to asbestos in their work by denying them the right to sue their former employers for developing pleural plaques. Unite will continue to fight to re-coup damages for those people who have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions."
Many support groups have declared their outrage. Tony Whitson, chair of the forum of asbestos support groups said: 'This judgment gives solace to rich insurance companies and leaves asbestos victims uncompensated. It is a disgrace.'
The House of Parliament has turned it back on the victims of asbestos related disease. Since 1775 when Percivall Pott, a prominent British surgeon, noted that chimney sweeps had a high incidence of cancer which he attributed to prolonged exposure and repeated contact with soot, many other work-related cancers have been documented. The British, who first epidemologically recognized asbestos related disease, have now stepped backward in denying benefits to those who suffer from this terrible disease.