In this article, we discuss news of claimant settlement success in two asbestos-related claims, both of which were disseminated last week[i].
Firstly, it was reported that a claimant law firm had been successful in bringing an asbestosis/pleural thickening claim 20 or 30 years out of time, securing settlement of £57,000.
The deceased began work as an apprentice, aged 14, in 1941. He remained an employee of the same employer for the rest of his career. His job involved the removal of asbestos lagging from pipework and repair work. The defendant employee had faced hundreds of similar claims, which were documented in the personnel file. In 2017, a post mortem of the deceased revealed that, although there was no evidence of mesothelioma, there was ‘clear evidence of asbestosis and a very high level of asbestos fibres’.
The eventual settlement of £57,000 was reduced from the overall likely value of claim (£98,000). The reasoning behind this reduction was to account for unpursued periods of exposure and the risk of failing to persuade the court to exercise its discretion, under s.33 of the Limitation Act 1980, and proceed with the claim out of time. The defendant could not established that it had been any more prejudiced than if the claim had been brought within the limitation period.
A partner of the claimant firm believes that larger businesses would not have pursued the claim:
‘Some of the huge asbestos law firms have very strict protocols about what they can and can’t accept and it’s unlikely that any of these firms would have been able to help Mr R [the Claimant] when he was diagnosed with suspected mesothelioma more than 30 years after he was first diagnosed with asbestosis, and more than 40 years since he was diagnosed with asbestos-related changes in his lungs’.
Elsewhere, in the same week, it was reported that another firm had reached a ‘ground-breaking’ settlement, with insurers to cover existing mesothelioma treatment and ‘future unidentified treatments’
The 2nd settlement involved a 63 year old claimant, who developed peritoneal mesothelioma during the course of his employment at the North Eastern Gas Board, between 1969 and 1980. The claimant’s work involved stripping asbestos lagging from pipework and boilers in offices, factories and mills. Was also required to sweep up the dust generated by asbestos lagging.
A partner of the claimant firm instructed in this claim stated:
‘We had previously secured a deferred periodical payments order for another client which ensured his cancer treatment costs would be covered regardless of their amount or the length of support he needed. However, this settlement for James builds on this further, as it includes the extra element of covering future unidentified treatments even if they are not currently on the medical radar at present. The ultimate benefit of such an agreement is simply peace of mind, as it ensures that our client does not face uncertainty regarding his access to treatment. Furthermore, with new treatments constantly in development but costs also on the rise, it ensures that our client will be able to benefit from whatever is required’.
[i] Neil Rose, ‘Firm achieves settlement in case “big players would not have touched”’ (28 March 2018 Litigation Futures) < https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/firm-achieves-settlement-in-case-big-players-would-not-have-touched> accessed 28 March 2018.