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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 01:41 GMT
Asbestos compensation bid starts
Surgeons examine a chest x-ray
It is thought up to 1bn could be paid to people with pleural plaques
Lawyers are set to mount a bid to win compensation for thousands of workers who have been struck down by an asbestos-related health condition.

If successful, solicitors believe up to 1bn could be paid to people with pleural plaques - scarring on the lung lining due to asbestos exposure.

Ian McFall, of Thompsons law firm, said most asbestos-related disease was due to "negligent" employers.

The insurance industry is keen to end compensation claims for the condition.

It hopes to do so by taking a case to the Court of Appeal in London.

Mr McFall said: "For over 20 years the courts have accepted that pleural plaques, together with the increased risk of future disease and related anxiety, constitutes an injury and should therefore be compensated.

"The majority of people who develop any type of asbestos-related disease, including pleural plaques, do so because their employers were negligent in failing to protect them from exposure to asbestos.

"This case is about the right of those people to continue to receive awards of compensation for the injury they have suffered."

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