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South Korean Family Wins Landmark Case

A South Korean court ruled that a local company was liable for exposing one of its employees to asbestos marking the first time a court has recognized liability for asbestos exposure.

The case involved a woman who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma believed to be caused by exposure to asbestos during a two year period where she worked in a factory in Busan. The court ruled that the company knew of the dangers of asbestos exposure and failed to provide adequate protection for employees. However the court also cited the victim for contributory negligence for failing to protect herself. The victim’s family received W133 million in compensation (roughly $145,000 USD).

A local environmental group believes that up to 46 people have died from asbestos related conditions over the last seven years. That number is expected to increase because of Korean industry growth after 1960 as well as protection laws that were just passed in July this year.

The Korean government has begun a preliminary study on possible case increases that is expected to be completed next year.