Dorset husband paid compensation for 'loss of wife's services'

A husband from Dorset has won High Court damages of more than £600,000 for the "loss of services" provided by his "extremely house-proud" wife.

Sally Knauer died aged 46 in 2009, as a result of exposure to asbestos at Guy's Marsh Prison in Shaftesbury, where she was employed as an administrator,

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) admitted liability but contested the figure.

After hearing evidence of the work Mrs Knauer did, the judge said Ian Knauer should receive £647,840.

The bulk of the damages are for the "loss of services" of his wife, with 54-year-old Mr Knauer given £88,160 for "past services dependency" and £329,241 for "future services dependency".

'Occasional bathroom repairs'

In deciding how much compensation her husband should be paid, the judge said they were an "old-fashioned couple".

Mr Justice Bean said the division of labour between them "was as it might have been in the 1950s".

He said: "Mrs Knauer managed the household. She cleaned, cooked, changed the beds, laundered and ironed clothes, did the shopping and walked the dogs.

"In addition, she decorated the house when necessary, and tended to the garden."

Mrs Knauer died on 28 August 2009 from Mesothelioma, a cancer usually caused by asbestos.

The couple had three sons, now aged 22, 20 and 16.

The judge said Mr Knauer, a business development manager, "did the occasional tasks such as bathroom repairs but little more than that".

Mr Justice Bean said he accepted Mr Knauer's evidence that Mrs Knauer "was extremely house-proud and would spend three hours on these tasks on a typical weekday and more than that on Saturdays and Sundays".

He said: "It may be that the figure of 20 hours is, if anything, an underestimate of the time she spent."

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