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Boyes Turner were instructed by a gentleman who had been diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening as a result of previous asbestos exposure.

Exposure

His exposure occurred during various periods of employment.

Firstly he was exposed to asbestos whilst working for The English Electric Company Limited at Hinkley Point. At the time, Hinkley Point Power Station was under construction and it was made up of two separate power stations known as Hinkley A and Hinkley B. The gentleman worked at Hinkley A initially as a Site Clerk, which was office based, but had to walk around the power station on a regular basis, taking paperwork for completion and obtaining signatures. This took approximately 30 to 40 minutes each time and he did it 4 to 5 times per day. 

After approximately 6 months, he became a Trainee Mechanical Inspector and his job was to go out around the power station, checking the construction work and signing it off.  Then he spent the whole day out and about in the power station, checking various areas.

The power station had a huge amount of asbestos lagging and as it was still under construction the pipework, boilers and turbines were all lagged with asbestos.

There were a number of different trades working in the power station at the same time and the normal procedure when fitting pipes and equipment was that the scaffolders would put up the necessary scaffolding, the welders and pipe fitters would then use the scaffolding to complete their work and thereafter the laggers would follow on, also using the scaffolding. Once the lagging had been completed and inspected, the scaffolding work would be removed and erected in a new place.

The gentleman was constantly walking past laggers applying lagging and they were mixing up asbestos lagging in the near vicinity. They poured asbestos powder into a bucket and mixed it with water to make a paste. After the laggers had completed their work, the scaffolding boards were not fully cleaned and therefore dust was carried around the power station.  The gentleman had to climb over boilers and pipes which were lagged with asbestos, disturbing loose asbestos powder. He was not provided with any respiratory protection during this time.

After a short spell abroad, the gentleman returned to Hinkley Point but this time he was employed by a company called Whessoe Limited and was based at Hinkley B Power Station. Again he started as a Site Clerk and, just as before, although he was office based, he still had to go out into the power station to obtain signatures and authorisations. Again he was near the vicinity of laggers who were mixing asbestos lagging and applying it to pipework. 

He then went to work for Head Wrightson Teesdale Limited and again worked at Hinkley Point B as a Site Clerk undertaking the same work as before. During this time his employment transferred in 1972/1973 to Head Wrightson Process Engineering Limited. 

Diagnosis

The gentleman had noted breathlessness when climbing hills or carrying heavy shopping and investigations revealed that he had pleural thickening as a result of his previous asbestos exposure. 

Following instruction, we set about taking the gentleman’s witness evidence and undertaking investigations into the companies which employed and exposed him to asbestos.

Claim

We obtained a supportive medical report which assessed that he had a respiratory disability of 20% as a result of his asbestos related diffuse pleural thickening. 

Initially the gentleman’s claim was intimated against other former employers. However, following a preliminary opinion from an expert engineer, the claim was progressed against only the four Defendants previously mentioned.

Matters were not easily resolved and were progressing towards a trial date of 27 March 2017.

The defendants were given permission to obtain their own medical evidence and their own engineering evidence which assisted in their own issues. Quantum was agreed between the parties at a gross sum of £35,000, on a 100% full and final basis. Eventually the only dispute which remained was how that compensation was to be apportioned between the four defendants and this issue was only resolved 12 days before the start of the trial. 

The four defendants believed that there should be a sizeable discount for unpursued defendants whereas the claimant disagreed as the expert engineering evidence for the claimant did not support any such discount. Eventually, the parties did reach a satisfactory settlement and the claim was settled on a full and final basis, settlement terms were agreed and the need for a trial was avoided. 

Conclusion

Despite taking nearly 4 years from start to finish, a successful conclusion was reached and the gentleman is delighted with the outcome and pleased to have avoided having to attend the Royal Courts of Justice to give evidence at trial.

We are pleased to have secured such an excellent outcome for the gentleman, despite the drawn out issues along the way.