The Supreme Court has held that asymptomatic platinum sensitisation can form the basis of an action in negligence, unlike pleural plaques caused by exposure to asbestos fibre.
The claimants in Dryden v Johnson Matthey plc (www.bailii.org) had developed platinum salts sensitisation. This meant they had to leave their jobs to avoid the possibility of further exposure platinum salts. Further exposure to these would probably cause the sensitisation to progress to an allergy which (unlike sensitisation) would have symptoms. Platinum salts are not encountered in everyday life.
The Court of Appeal had held that the claimants suffered no actionable personal injury, but the Supreme Court has now reversed this. The Supreme Court pointed out that the employer accepted that the physiological changes involved in sensitivity can constitute sufficient personal injury. The employer said however it must be something which affects ordinary life, such as sensitivity to sunlight. The Supreme Court disagreed. The claimants’ bodily capacity for work had been impaired and they were significantly worse off.
The court distinguished platinum sensitisation from pleural plaques caused by exposure to asbestos fibre which the House of Lords has held not to be an actionable injury.
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