Claude Le Guyader v. Eureden

RG 21/00370
July 2, 2019
Final judgment
France, Rennes

Farm/rural workers
Claude Le Guyader
Company, Nutrea Nutrition Animale (N.N.A), Eureden (ex Triskalia)
François Lafforgue

Civil court
Overturn the decision of the Saint Brieuc Court of First Instance dismissing Claude Le Guyader's claim for recognition of his employer's inexcusable fault in the occurrence of his work-related illness
Court of Appeal of Rennes, France

November 15, 2023
Partially Positive
The Court ruled that the "hypersensitivity pneumopathy" disease suffered by Mr. Le Guyader was due to the inexcusable fault of Nutrea Nutrition Animale; ordered the maximum increase in the pension paid to Mr. Le Guyader on the basis of a permanent disability rate of 25% (...)

On November 15, 2023, the Rennes Court of Appeal recognized the inexcusable fault of the Bretagne-based company Nutrea Nutrition Animale (NNA), a subsidiary of Triskalia (now Eureden), for the "hypersensitivity pneumopathy" disease suffered by Claude Le Guyader, a former employee of the company.

Claude Le Guyader was exposed to grain dust and organophosphate products during his working life as a delivery driver and then as a grain dryer cleaner. In 2012, he was declared unfit for work by his occupational doctor due to his state of health. He was dismissed a year later after refusing offers of redeployment within the company.

On March 14, 2018, the Rennes Court of Appeal ruled that his illness was work-related, and that the Mutualité Sociale Agricole d'Armorique health insurance fund should therefore cover it.

On October 24, 2019, the Guingamp Labour Court ordered NNA to pay Claude Le Guyader 26,592 euros in compensation for dismissal without real and serious cause, 16,221 euros in special compensation for dismissal, and 20,000 euros in damages for moral prejudice.

Claude Le Guyader also brought an action before the Saint-Brieuc Court of Justice to hold the NNA company liable for the development of his pathology, now recognized as being of occupational origin. His claim was dismissed on December 10, 2020. He then appealed this decision to the Rennes Court of Appeal.

Although the Court of Appeal upheld Claude Le Guyader's claim, NNA's inexcusable fault was not found to be attributable to his exposure to organophosphate products, but to the inadequacy of the safety measures taken by the company to protect him from inhaling grain dust.

Indeed, the Court ruled that, in accordance with the medical report qualifying Mr. Le Guyader's pathology as an occupational disease, the origin of his pathology was his exposure to "various aerocontaminants (mainly cereal dust and micro-organisms)". With regard to his exposure to pesticides, a 2010 medical report mentions a "probable final diagnosis [...] of accidental toxic organophosphate pneumopathy." In the CA's view, "these elements contain precautions of language" that do not sufficiently establish a link between the alleged exposure and the development of the pathology. The company's inexcusable fault was therefore not recognized on this point.

With regard to Mr. Le Guyader's exposure to cereal dust, the Court noted that although protective masks had been supplied to him by NNA, the single risk assessment document for the agricultural sector recommended the wearing of a ventilated hood. It has thus been demonstrated that NNA was aware of the health risks associated with inhaling grain dust, and that the measures taken to protect the employee's health were insufficient. The company could therefore be held liable for inexcusable fault.

As a result, the Court of Appeal ordered an expert appraisal of the case, and postponed ruling on the settlement of damages until the expert report had been submitted.