Electrician wins asbestos case against car manufacturers Vauxhall

An electrician whose wife developed lung cancer after washing his asbestos-contaminated overalls has won a landmark action in the High Court.

The BBC today reported that John Carey continued a claim against Vauxhall Motors in Luton after his wife Lydia died of mesothelioma in November.

The court heard his clothes had been contaminated with poisonous dust from stripping asbestos from pipework.

Mr Carey, who could be in line for compensation of £1m, described the judgement as “bittersweet”.

Solicitors for the family say Mrs Carey initially launched the action against Vauxhall Motors after her diagnosis.

She died a week before the four-day hearing at the High Court got under way.

Mr Carey, from Bedfordshire, described coming into contact with asbestos as an electrician in the trucks division of Vauxhall Motors between 1973 and 1979 – during which time he met and married his wife.

Vauxhall Motors said any jobs which disturbed asbestos were carried out under strictly controlled conditions and that Mr Carey would not have taken his work clothes home, the court heard.

Mr Carey’s legal team said he was distressed to think that he might have unwittingly contributed towards his wife’s illness.

Passing judgment, Her Honour Judge Karen Walden-Smith said she was satisfied that Mr Carey had been exposed to significant quantities of asbestos dust which was transferred back home on his overalls.

Mr Carey said after the hearing:

“The judgment in our favour is bittersweet. I am pleased that my former employers have been found responsible after allowing me – and potentially hundreds of others – to travel home contaminated with asbestos.

In a statement, a spokesman for Vauxhall Motors said the company was “disappointed” but would “respect the judgment”.