Mr N, Lagger
Mr N was diagnosed with asbestosis in 2005. He had been a lagger in the 1950s and he had been exposed to substantial amounts of asbestos dust lagging. Mr N was very significantly disabled with his breathlessness and was on oxygen. He found it difficult to leave the house without assistance.
The difficult issue in the case was one of limitation, or time periods. He had been diagnosed with asbestosis in 2005 and by the time he approached us in late 2010 his claim was out of time. There is a 3 year time period in which to have court proceedings commenced. Nevertheless, the court does have a discretion to allow claims to proceed out of the 3 year time period if it is fair to do so having regard to all the circumstances. Mr N’s breathing had deteriorated very considerably since the time he had first been diagnosed, and our solicitors’ view was that there was no prejudice to the defendants as they had dealt with many claims against them in the past. However, the first barrister who was asked to act for the claimant in the matter was not prepared to act as he considered that the prospects of success were too uncertain. Not to be deterred our solicitors continued to pursue the claim. The defendants resisted the case on the grounds of limitation and court proceedings were commenced.
The trial on limitation was heard in October 2012. The Judge found that there was no prejudice to the defendants and that the balance of justice was in favour of Mr N being allowed to pursue his claim although it was outside the 3 year time period.
After losing the trial on limitation, the defendants then settled the claim shortly thereafter in December 2012.
Mr K, Heating and Plumbing Engineer
Mr K, was diagnosed with asbestosis in March 2010. He had been employed as a heating engineer/plumber for 20 years. He was exposed to asbestos dust from laggers and from carrying out works of repair to pipes and boilers himself, removing asbestos. He described that most of the time when stripping asbestos he looked like a snowman.
Mr K had completed his National Service in the Royal Navy between 1952 and 1954 and he had worked in the engine room. Mr K’s claim was settled for £36,500 in 2012.
Mrs Richardson, Heating and Plumbing Engineer
Mrs Richardson approached the National Asbestos Helpline in March 2011. Her husband, Mr Richardson, passed away in September 2010 from asbestosis. Mr Richardson had been a heating and plumbing engineer with J Preston and Sons Heating and Plumbing Engineers Lancashire. Mr Richardson had been employed by the company for most of his working history.
There was no lifetime statement from Mr Richardson and it was necessary to trace witnesses who had worked alongside him to confirm the extent of exposure to asbestos, as asbestosis cases require there to be proof of heavy exposure.
There were added complications in the case in that Mr Richardson had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and there had been no diagnosis of asbestosis within his lifetime. Difficult issues arose as to the level of Mr Richardson’s breathlessness having regard to his Alzheimer’s and other co-morbid conditions.
A settlement was achieved for £31,000 in June 2013.
Mr R, Plumbing and Heating Engineer
Mr R from Lancashire developed asbestosis following his 25 year employment as a plumber/heating engineer for J. Prestons & Sons Ltd Lancashire when he regularly lagged pipes with asbestos. His family claimed compensation following his death.
Mr F, Merchant Navy Engineer
Mr F from Liverpool developed asbestosis as a result of his work as a fitter / engineer in the Merchant Navy. He was exposed to asbestos during the course of his employment with seven employers. These were John Brown Engineering Ltd, Scotland; BP Shipping Ltd in Middlesex; J & J Denholm Ltd, Glasgow; P & O Shipping Company; Cunard-Brocklebank Ltd; Canadian Fishing Company, Nova Scotia, Canada; and English Electric Ltd, Newton Le Willows, Merseyside. Extensive investigations were undertaken to locate insurers for all seven companies and where other solicitors failed, we eventually located insurers in respect of six of the seven Defendants. We negotiated a settlement on a provisional damages basis. This means that if in the future Mr F is develops one of the more serious asbestos conditions such as mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer or there is a worsening in his asbestosis, he will be able to return to Court for a further award of damages.