Elizabeth Bradford v Inner London Education Authority (ILEA)
Elizabeth Bradford trained as a teacher and worked as a qualified teacher from 1967 until she retired in 2001, except for periods she spent away from work raising her family. She worked in various schools in Wandsworth and in Lambeth, South London, when she was employed by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). It was between about 1979 and about 1985 that Mrs Bradford was exposed to asbestos and it was in December 2005 that Mrs Bradford was told that she was suffering from mesothelioma.
Between 1979 and 1985 Mrs Bradford worked in a prefabricated building, situated in the school playground, that was used as a classroom for infant children. The building was fabricated from asbestos-containing materials. Unaware of any risks to her health, Mrs Bradford pinned the children’s work to the walls using drawing pins, throughout this period. She was not exposed to asbestos anywhere else.
Mrs Bradford instructed Andrew Morgan to make a claim for compensation as a result of this exposure. At the same time she made her own claim for a lump sum payment under the Pneumoconiosis Etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act.
Mrs Bradford’s claim for a lump sum payment was initially rejected. The DWP said that they would not make any payment because exposure during her employment with the London Borough of Lambeth had contributed to the disease, the Borough remained available to be sued and her employment with the Borough came to an end only fairly recently. Mrs Bradford instructed Andrew Morgan to appeal against that rejection.
Andrew argued that the exposure had occurred when Mrs Bradford was employed by ILEA in a Wandsworth school and that when she moved to a school in Lambeth she was still employed by ILEA. By the time she was employed by Lambeth the asbestos exposure had ceased. Therefore, the only “relevant employer” under the terms of the 1979 Act was the ILEA and the ILEA ceased to exist in 1986, when it was abolished by the Government of the day. Andrew argued that since there was no “relevant employer” Mrs Bradford was entitled to a payment and the appeal succeeded.
At the same time, Andrew pursued the claim for compensation against the employer. A claim was initially made to the London Borough of Wandsworth, which now has responsibility for the school where Mrs Bradford was exposed to asbestos. They stated that responsibility lay with either the London Pension Fund Authority (as successor to ILEA) or Lambeth Borough Council, who employed Mrs Bradford when the ILEA was abolished. Eventually solicitors for Lambeth Borough Council took over conduct of the Defence and set about their enquiries. They disclosed a number of “knowledge” documents, in particular, but were awaiting the outcome of a number of test cases elsewhere involving claims by teachers before deciding what attitude to adopt.
Andrew was able to procure an offer of £90,000 compensation which, after negotiation, was increased to £100,000, which Mrs Bradford was happy to accept.
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