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Written on 14th June 2021 by

Earlier this year Boyes Turner’s Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Claims Team settled a case for a six-figure sum after being instructed only five months earlier.

The Background

Chris* was employed as a silversmith in the 1970s working in London. As part of his employment  he was exposed to asbestos in a number of ways:

  1. He would mix asbestos powder with acid and water to produce a paste which would then be used on candlesticks and goblets before a finish was applied. His employers would mention that blue asbestos was dangerous but because they were using white asbestos, they said (wrongly)  that it was safe. He spent an hour at a time, mixing up, and using, the asbestos compound, and then clearing up afterwards. He undertook this job at least once a month, sometimes more frequently;
  2. Chris would also cut up asbestos sheets used as insulation to stop the silver products from changing shape when heated. He would measure and cut the asbestos sheets to size using a handsaw provided by his employer. He would then file the asbestos to fit the particular shape for the particular work, producing a lot of dust;
  3. Finally, asbestos was used on the metal frames in the forges because it was fire and heat resistant. The sheets would often need replacing and it was Chris’ job to remove, cut and install the replacement asbestos sheets in the forges. Again, this was done using a hand saw which would throw up dust that Chris would then inhale.

Around September 2020 Chris began to notice some symptoms such as losing weight and increasing chest pain. He visited his GP who referred him for a chest x-ray. After a number of investigations it was discovered that Chris had contracted mesothelioma; an asbestos related cancer and given a prognosis of 18 months to 2 years.

The Claim

Laura Magson, a Partner in Boyes Turner’s Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Claims Team, was instructed by Chris just before Christmas 2020 to pursue an action against his former employer. Laura prepared the necessary supporting documents and after some negotiation, a settlement was reached in the sum of £230,000 without the need to issue court proceedings.

In addition, it was important for Laura that the Defendants agreed to fund any treatment for Chris’ mesothelioma in the future that may not be available on the NHS (such as immunotherapy), which they did.  Laura therefore avoided the need to issue a claim or take the case to trial. Laura was able to settle the case within only five months from initial instruction and secure a sum which will help Chris to manage his disease. Chris is now receiving immunotherapy and responding very positively to it.  This treatment is available to Chris on the NHS but should he opt for further treatment that is not available on the NHS, Chris has the peace of mind that the Defendants will fund any such treatment, if it becomes necessary.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a treatment which has never previously been available on the NHS. It helps patients by strengthening their immune system in some way so it is better able to fight cancer.

There are several forms of immunotherapy.

  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors work by disabling the body’s natural inhibitors which prevent the immune system from becoming too strong;
  • Immune System Modulators enhance the body’s immune response against the cancer to help to fight it off;
  • Monoclonal Antibodies are produced in a lab and bind on to the cancer so that it can be better seen and destroyed by the body’s immune system.

In cases involving mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases, Laura and Boyes Turner’s Mesothelioma and Asbestos Disease Claims Team would try to an agreement or indemnity from the Defendant to fund potential private immunotherapy in the future. However, the NHS is beginning to introduce funding for certain types of immunotherapy, such as Ipilimumab and Nivolumab. These work by helping the body to identify and destroy the cancer cells and whilst it is not curative, it does help stop the spread of the cancer. This means that people like Chris can begin treatment as soon as possible instead of waiting until the conclusion of litigation.

Chris said “The way you have worked with us has been absolutely fantastic and I don't feel we could have asked for more. The personal contact we have had with you has helped us cope with this difficult situation to the extent that everything has gone as smoothly as it could”.

“Laura’s efficiency, tenacity, kindness and empathy made this experience really stress free for us, for which we will be eternally grateful”.

Laura has over 15 years of specialist experience representing seriously injured victims and the families of those with fatal injuries. For more information about how the mesothelioma and asbestos disease claims team can help you or your loved ones after a diagnosis of an asbestos related disease, please contact the team by email on idclaims@boyesturner.com or by telephone on 0118 952 7199.

*anonymised for client confidentiality