Breakthrough at last for asbestos victims

22 February 2007

Breakthrough at last for asbestos victims

SP Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen describes herself as “delighted” by the agreement which the Eternit corporation has reached with two victims of asbestos. The two suffer from cancer of the pleura brought about by exposure to asbestos, though they were never employed in the industry. Previously, Eternit have denied any responsibility for asbestos-related diseases unless these were caused while working for the firm, and only former employees and their families have received compensation.

Last year then Secretary of State Pieter Van Geel, following sustained pressure from the SP, decided to extend to asbestos victims who had not been employed by Eternit the same right to a pre-payment against eventual compensation as is available to occupational victims. This enables them to cover the costs of taking Eternit to court to recover damages, as well as to benefit from a proportion of such compensation, as victims often die before cases are settled in court.

Krista van Velzen“I would say that the recognition by Eternit that they are not only responsible for employees should shorten future court proceedings considerably,” said Krista Van Velzen, who has long campaigned to force Eternit into accepting the blame for victims of its products who were never in the firm's employ. “It is good that Eternit has now finally accepted that they are also responsible for people who came into contact with asbestos outside the workplace, such as those who cycled over paths made from asbestos or the two brothers who are the subject of this agreement, who traded in old jute sacks previously used by Eternit.”

The brothers were supported by SP Senator Bob Ruers, well known in the Netherlands as the “asbestos lawyer”.

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