Scotland, UK, has the highest rate of mesothelioma cases in the world. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles. However, a recent breakthrough has emerged for victims of mesothelioma. Victims of mesothelioma can claim compensation for exposure to asbestos while laundering clothes.

Babcock International Ltd Court Case

Babcock International Ltd recently paid Adrienne Sweeney’s children compensation after their mother lost her battle with mesothelioma in 2015. Asbestos was popular in construction industries and factories until around the 1980s, which was when the dangers of the substance were made public. Many of the companies within these industries were well aware of the effects that asbestos could have on workers for many years before this, and did nothing to protect their employees.

The results of Adrienne’s court case are pivotal for mesothelioma victims. Adrienne contracted mesothelioma without being in an industry that used asbestos. She contracted the disease through her husband.

Adrienne Sweeney’s Secondary Asbestos Exposure

William Sweeney worked in a boiler-making factory during the 1960s. He would come home every evening and hug his wife before she laundered his clothes. Boilers were often covered in asbestos for insulation purposes, so William would have asbestos on his clothes, hair and shoes.

Adrienne inhaled the asbestos fibers while she hugged him after a long day at work, and then again while washing his overalls.

Secondary asbestos exposure causes for thousands of deaths, but until now has been a challenge for women to prove that their illness was due to their husbands’ employer’s negligence. This new ruling sets a precedent for women and their families, who have been fighting for justice for years.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure Cases

While compensation can never bring back a loved one, the money can help towards loss of earnings, medical care and operations. Hope Robertson from Clydebank Asbestos Group in Scotland, described the decision as a “great victory,” saying it will “open the floodgates.” The family of Adrienne Sweeney received £247,000 from Babcock International.

During Adrienne Sweeney’s court case, Judge Lady Carmichael said that there was evidence to prove that, from 1965, people were at risk of developing mesothelioma through secondary exposure, yet companies failed to take safety precautions. It wasn’t until after 1971, that companies started to launder employees’ clothes at work, thus reducing the risk of passing the asbestos fibers onto other people after they left the premises.

Dr. Peter Semple worked at Inverclyde Royal Hospital between 1979-2008 and told the court that 11 out of 37 female mesothelioma cases he encountered had been due to exposure of asbestos through cleaning their husbands’ overalls. Furthermore, the dangers of secondary asbestos were highlighted in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine in 1965, which means that this was an issue for a long time before asbestos became officially banned in the UK on August 24, 1999.

Women Who Have Become Victims of Mesothelioma

Adrienne was among many other women who have become victims of mesothelioma through no fault of their own. While asbestos-related diseases are usually recognized more frequently in males, Adrienne’s case is bound to open up many doors for women and their families who have been fighting for what is right.

Mesothelioma can sometimes take up to 50 years to develop, so it cannot be estimated how many more people will be diagnosed in years to come. However, cases like this suggest that it may be easier for families to put forward a legitimate court case in the future.

Get a Free Mesothelioma Case Review
  • $1M to $1.4M average payout
  • No stress or upfront fees
  • Get money within 90 days

Get a Free Case Review

Shara Fisher
Shara Fisher Senior Paralegal
17+ years providing legal help to mesothelioma victims
Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

Our Promise to You
Our Promise to You
  1. Landmark legal victory in case of woman killed by second-hand asbestos on husband’s overalls
    Retrieved from:
    Accessed: 12th August 2018

  2. Compensation possible for women who washed asbestos clothes
    Retrieved from:
    Accessed: 12th August 2018

  3. Asbestos finally banned in the UK
    Retrieved from:
    Accessed: 12th August 2018

Get Your Free 2024 Mesothelioma Guide

  • Symptoms & staging
  • Average prognosis
  • Life-extending treatments
Get Your Free Guide Now
Mesothelioma guide