Dushal Mehta's mesothelioma case highlighting dependency featured in PI Focus | Fieldfisher
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Dushal Mehta's mesothelioma case highlighting dependency featured in PI Focus

Dushal Mehta
Dushal's successful claim on behalf of Sarah Witham who lost her husband Neil to mesothelioma in 2017 was featured in PI Focus, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyer's magazine, in April because of its ground-breaking judgement on dependency issues under the Fatal Accident's Act.

Anthony Metzer QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, heard the case of Witham v Hill Ltd [2020] in February 2020. He had to consider whether Sarah, who looks after two foster children with special needs, had a case to claim for pecuniary loss following Neil's death, not least since the couple had previously decided that Neil would be the children's main carer and Sarah would return to work.

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, the children (A and B) had no claim since they did not enjoy the same rights as natural children. Under the Act, children and step-children are considered dependants, but not foster children.

The judge's decision to award Sarah just under £930,000 in total meant he accepted Sarah's claim that she and her family had suffered a loss. Specifically, he found the dependency was the claimant’s (Sarah's) and was not an illegitimate ‘relabelling’ of A and B’s irrecoverable dependency. In this regard he accepted that even though A and B were involved in the dependency (as the care Neil would have provided was to them) it was nevertheless Sarah's loss.

Read the full story about the case here or you can read the latest edition of PI Focus here.