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Leigh Day recovers GBP 150,000 for South African victims

South Africans receive payments for damage caused by asbestos production in pioneering work by London law firm Leigh Day.

An unrehabilitated mine dump

22 January 2007

Leigh Day has pioneered claims for South African asbestos victims against an American trust fund and recovered compensation exceeding £150,000 for victims of the operations of Cape Plc, a UK-based company, which mined asbestos in South Africa for decades.

In June 2003, Leigh Day recovered £10.5m in compensation for South African victims in a case brought directly against Cape Plc in the UK courts.  The settlement followed years of litigation and the settlement was reached after Cape reneged on a deal to settle for £21m reached in 2001.

John Manville Trust

In 2005, Leigh Day realised the potential of bringing further claims on behalf of the same victims against the US-based John Manville Trust. John Manville was the largest asbestos manufacturer in the world until it was forced into bankruptcy and the resulting Trust is responsible for meeting the ongoing liabilities of the company.  John Manville was the world’s main asbestos producer back in the 1950s and 1960s and the company advertised widely that John Manville’s products were integrated into all aspects of worldwide asbestos production.  On investigation, it transpired that John Manville held shares in Cape’s operations and mines and Leigh Day were therefore able to attach liability to John Manville and bring claims against the Trust.

Due to the size of John Manville’s operations and the extent of its liabilities, the payouts from the Trust Fund are relatively small, at less than $6,000 for mesothelioma cases and only a few hundred dollars for asbestosis cases.  However in view of the number of claimants, Leigh Day thought it worthwhile sending a specialist asbestos solicitor to the US to become a registered lawyer with the John Manville Trust and have since processed many claims successfully, including applications for higher payments through submitting specific claims for individual assessment.

Martyn Day comments:
"Overall we have recovered nearly $300,000 (over £150,000) from the John Manville Trust and the payments are continuing to come in.  The payments do not go any way to make up the shortfall from the original Cape settlement but they make a significant difference to the South African claimants who continue to suffer the effects of Cape’s operations.

Furthermore we have been able to advance claims on behalf of our UK-based victims after their claims have been concluded.  The Manville Trust has the benefit of disregarding the fact that a UK claimant has already received damages for his or her injury, despite the fact that UK damages are often many multiples of the Manville payouts.  Our UK claimants have therefore obtained additional payments on top of their existing UK damages."

For further information on submitting claims to the John Manville Trust for mesothelioma victims, please contact Martyn Day or Daniel Easton.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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