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Smoking illness cuts asbestos claim: Court


HARTFORD, Conn.--Connecticut's Supreme Court has ruled in an asbestos case that an employer is not responsible for the portion of a workers compensation claimant's lung damage that is attributable to smoking.

The court's decision in George Deschenes vs. Transco Inc. et al. overturns rulings by a workers comp commissioner and a compensation review board.

Connecticut's high court found that apportionment of permanent partial disability benefits is appropriate when an employer proves a disability resulted from two concurrently developing diseases--one occupational and the other nonoccupational--and the claimant's work did not influence the nonoccupational disease's development.

Mr. Deschenes worked as a union insulator for several companies from 1967 to 1985, court records state. During that time, he was exposed to asbestos and has not been able to work full time since 1994, when he was diagnosed with an asbestos-related lung disease.

But he also has smoked since the age of 17, which caused him to develop emphysema, court records show.

The high court remanded the case for a determination of the appropriate reduction in benefits.