Previously, in edition 269 of BC Disease News (here), we reported that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had successfully defended a Q fever claim on breach of common law and/or statutory duty at the Central London County Court, before Her Honour Judge Boucher.
At trial, in March 2019, Wayne Bass, an ex-2nd Battalion Private, failed to establish that his former employer had been negligent in not having taken ‘all reasonable steps to minimise remove or minimise’ the risk of exposure to Coxiella burnetii bacteria, the pathogen responsible for causing Q fever in Helmand province, which later developed into Q fever chronic fatigue syndrome.
It was argued that doxycycline antibiotics, ‘effective in a treating dose’, should have been administered to inhibit infection in the course of military service, between 2011 and 2012, but the Court found that it was wrong to automatically assume that doxycycline was ‘effective in a preventative dose’.
In fact, HHJ Baucher assessed that the risk of Q fever was so 'low', that:
‘There was nothing the defendant could do to avoid exposure to Q fever, save not to deploy troops to Afghanistan’.
Last month, Hilary Meredith Solicitors (the claimant’s solicitors) were still considering whether to appeal the 1st instance judgment, but this week, it was reported that 34-year-old Wayne Bass had started a fundraising page on Crowd Justice – a clear signal of intent to bring a legal challenge.[i]
Until now, the case had been handled by his solicitors and QC barrister pro bono. However, to take the appeal ‘the whole way’ (i.e. to a re-trial), he will need to pay at least £30,000 to cover his legal representation fees.
Initially, he is seeking £10,000 in donations, though it is not specified whether this figure covers more than the cost of drafting the appeal notice.
According to Hilary Meredith, there are ‘other similar cases being prepared’. If the appeal decision is heard first, the ‘other similar cases’ may be bound by the appeal.
[i] ‘Ex-soldier who sued MOD after contracting Q Fever in Afghanistan to appeal court’s decision’ (20 May 2019 The London Economic) <https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/must-reads/ex-soldier-who-sued-mod-after-contracting-q-fever-in-afghanistan-to-appeal-courts-decision/20/05/> accessed 21 May 2019.