The Supreme Court confirms that José María Íñigo did not die from asbestos

The Supreme Court confirms that José María Íñigo did not die from asbestos

José María Íñigo, in a photo from 2003.José María Íñigo, in a photo from 2003. GUSTAVO CUEVAS (EFE)

The Supreme Court has upheld the verdict that found that asbestos in TVE equipment was not the cause of death of journalist José María Íñigo, dismissing the presenter’s widow’s appeal to unify doctrine in this type of case.

José María Íñigo died in 2018 from a malignant pleural mesothelioma, which he was diagnosed in 2016, and before he died he initiated a procedure to have his occupational disease recognized. His family continued the case and filed a lawsuit against the Spanish radio and television company, Mutua Fraternidad Muprespa, the National Social Security Institute and the Spanish Broadcasting Society, SA

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Now the Social Chamber of the Supreme Court opposes the appeal of Íñigo’s widow, as requested by the prosecutor, thereby confirming the November 2021 judgment of the Supreme Court of Madrid (TSJM), which overturned the previous judgment Social Court No. 2 of Madrid, which gave cause to the moderator’s family. There is no more recourse.

That court had recognized that José María Íñigo’s wife’s widow’s pension was due to an occupational disease resulting from the presenter’s exposure to asbestos during his employment with RTVE. But the TSJM upheld one of the appeals filed by Social Security and RTVE against that judgment, concluding that, as noted by the Labor Inspectorate, “the causal link between the deceased’s provision of services to RTVE and the contract has not been established became illness”.

Now the Supreme Court upholds the arguments put forward by the TSJM and does not allow the appeal for doctrinal unification, rejecting a possible error in the assessment of evidence and emphasizing that “the applicant asserts her disagreement with the assessment of evidence conducted by the Court of Appeal” and that the findings of the court of first instance are upheld. The Chamber reiterates that in this type of appeal “it is not possible to review the established facts of the judgment under appeal or to deal with issues related to the assessment of evidence”.

The occupation practiced by the deceased is not included in the table of admissions for occupational diseases

Judgment of the Social Chamber of the Colonel

The higher regional courts also reject a comparability of this case with the case uncovered by the widow in the appeal proceedings of a worker in a fertilizer factory who was absolutely permanently unable to work due to an occupational disease, since this activity was included in the picture of occupational diseases as the cause of pleural mesothelioma through inhalation of asbestos dust.

“On the contrary, in the present case, the activity carried out by the deceased is not included in the table for the recognition of occupational diseases, nor is it related to any of the activities that Royal Decree 1299/2006 considers to be the cause of mesothelioma of pleura, nor those that Royal Decree 396/2006 considers to be at risk from asbestos,” the Chamber adds.

For this reason, it concludes that “the legal presumption of occupational disease is not applicable and consequently the plaintiff had to prove the existence of a causal connection between the death and the exercise of the activity, which also did not occur.”

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