In September 2014 I was instructed by Richard from Lymington in Hampshire following his diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis which he was told could be related to his previous asbestos exposure.
Sadly, Richard was very unwell at the time he instructed me, being extremely short of breath and having to use home oxygen. I visited Richard at home and he told me how he had worked for Wellworthy Limited, a company owned by Turner and Newell. He had worked for the company from 1960 until 1979 as a painter and decorator and was based mainly at their Ampress Works premises in Lymington. The company manufactured pistons and piston rings and became a major producer of components used in the motor and aircraft industries.
One of the tasks that Richard frequently had to do during his time working at the company was repainting the roofs of their various premises, including the Ampress Works but also Ringwood Works and Salisbury Works. Richard instructed me that the roofs of these large premises were constructed from corrugated asbestos cement sheets. The roofs were painted inside but due to the work that was ongoing in the premises the paint on the roofs deteriorated over time and became flaky. Richard regularly had to work on the roofs scraping off the old paint and then repainting the roofs. Richard said that he and his colleagues only used small scrapers to do this task which meant that as they were chipping off the paint they would also chip away at the asbestos cement sheeting, meaning that there was asbestos dust and fibres in the air. Every day he also had to sweep up the dust and debris.
I initially directed the claim to the Turner and Newell Asbestos Trustee Company Limited, which has been set up to handle claims against former Turner and Newell companies. The Trust subsequently informed me that they had located an employer’s liability insurer on cover during the time of Richard’s employment who would deal with the claim. The insurer was Zurich. This was very good news as claims brought against the Turner and Newell Trust are only paid at a proportion of the total value of the claim.
I sought medical evidence from an expert who was of the opinion that Richard’s pulmonary fibrosis had been caused by his asbestos exposure. He also was of the view that Richard had initially been 10-30% disabled by breathlessness due to the condition but this had increased to 40-70% in 2013 and then 80-100% in 2014. Richard also had Parkinson’s Disease but the expert was of the view that this condition did not affect Richard’s breathing.
Whilst the claim was being considered I was able to assist Richard to apply for some government benefits namely Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) and a payment under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers Compensation) Act 1979. The applications were successful however sadly he passed away prior to the payments being made.
His wife, Gill, took over the case following her husband’s death. There was a post-mortem examination which confirmed that Richard had died from bronchopneumonia and asbestosis.
I then thought about valuing the claim. Richard’s claim was more valuable than most asbestosis claims because his respiratory disability associated with the condition was so extensive. At the end of his life he was 100% disabled by the asbestosis. Because the condition caused his death, Gill was also able to submit a claim for losses and expenses which were incurred due to Richard’s early death, including his funeral expenses and a proportion of his future income had he not died prematurely due to the asbestosis. In addition, we submitted a claim for the cost of care and assistance which Richard was provided by his wife and family, and services which he previously did around the house before he became ill.
After some negotiation it was possible to settle the claim for Gill prior to court proceedings being intimated. Gill agreed settlement with the insurers at £110,000.