Court favours asbestos ‘overalls case’ claim for the first time

27 Feb 2019

A Claimant was finally successful in running an ‘overalls case’ argument in the High Court, in the recently decided case, Carey -v- Vauxhall Motors Limited.

What were the details of the asbestos case?

Insurance companies have been paying compensation to second hand victims of asbestos exposure in what have been commonly called ‘overall cases’. In this particular case, Mr Carey worked as a maintenance electrician in the Vauxhall/Bedford Trucks Dunstable plant in the 1970s. He married Mrs Carey in August 1976.

Over the course of his work, he regularly came into contact with asbestos, so wore overalls which he sometimes brought home. Mrs Carey then laundered these overalls, becoming exposed to asbestos herself in the process.

What was the result of the ‘overalls case’?

The judge found, having considered, Magereson v JW Roberts Ltd [1996] PIQR 358, Maguire v Harland & Wolff Plc [2005] EWCA Civ 01, and the recent Scottish case Gibson v Babcock International Ltd [2018] CSOH 78, that the Defendant was right to admit that a duty was owed to Mrs Carey, even though she had no direct relationship with Vauxhall.

The duty and standard of care in overall cases concerning second hand asbestos exposure has now been clarified, as seen below.

“…all employers (after October 1965) are subject to the duty to take reasonable care to prevent exposure of its employees, and members of their families, from inhaling the asbestos that might cause mesothelioma.

The court has to consider whether (the Defendant) fulfilled its duty to take reasonable care by taking all practicable measures to prevent (the person liable to second hand exposure) from inhaling asbestos dust, through contact with their employee … in light of the known risk that asbestos dust, if inhaled, might cause mesothelioma.”

Are you or a member of your family suffering with the effects of second-hand exposure to asbestos? Our team of specialist asbestos lawyers can build your case, helping you get the compensation you’re due. Don’t hesitate to submit an online enquiry and one of our expert solicitors will be in touch as soon as possible.


John Hall