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  • Writer's pictureKirk T. Hartley

France - Asbestos Exposure Prosecutions Against Former Managers of an Asbestos-Cement Manufacturer

Issues arising from criminal prosecutions of former managers at an asbestos-cement plant (Everite) are up on appeal, as described in a February 2, 2021 post at the Ban Asbestos Secretariat run by Ms. Laurie Kazan-Allen. The issues appear to be on the way up to France's highest court.

The post provides the following insight and quotes regarding the recent decision of the intermediate appellate court.

"The facts are these. A judgment handed down on January 20, 2021 by the investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal reversed a July 2019 verdict that had dismissed charges against officials from Everite, a former asbestos company and a subsidiary of the Saint-Gobain group, over occupational deaths caused by exposures to asbestos. According to French litigation experts, the legal and scientific reasoning of the 2021 ruling is applicable to cases that remain pending against personnel from other asbestos companies and government agencies. The Court’s findings as detailed in its 30+ page judgment were categorical:

“Each successive leader… may have been responsible for the exposure of employees to asbestos fibers. The fact that several people were able to contribute to the realization of the attack on the life or the physical integrity of the victims does not present any difficulty in the field of criminal responsibility and does not lead to the recognition of a collective responsibility contrary to the fundamental principles of criminal law since it is the indivisibility of the acts in question which mutually serve as a support and converge towards a unity of realization, so that [the subject of] each possible indictment can only be reproached for his own act. Thus, it is up to the examining magistrates to continue the information [search] by looking for any serious or concordant clues against a leader or persons benefiting from delegations of power."

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