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Written by Laura Magson

In November 2016, the mesothelioma and asbestos claims team settled a fatal mesothelioma claim for £1.1 million, making it one of the highest settlements in the field of asbestos disease claims.  

Mr Burgis’ asbestos exposure

Mr Burgis’ exposure to asbestos during his working life was relatively straightforward. Mr Burgis was exposed to asbestos by two employers. 

Mr Burgis was first exposed to asbestos when he worked for a haulage company, York Trailers, as a welder. There he was exposed to asbestos when he removed old brakes and fitted new brakes which involved chamfering, drilling and screwing/riveting asbestos. Mr Burgis also often worked right next to fitters who used air hoses to blow out the dust from the brake drums. This was incredibly dusty work. Additionally the trailers of the lorries were often insulated with asbestos lagging and Mr Burgis had to remove the insulation.

Mr Burgis also worked for AJF Limited in Avonmouth. He worked as a welder for AJF and was subcontracted out as part of a team to various companies. He worked in steelworks, car factories, power stations, mills, and petrol, chemical and oil refineries. He did jobs for Commonwealth Smelting, ICI, Rolls Royce, British Oil and Cape Mills and various others. He was exposed to asbestos at almost all of these jobs.

As  Mr Burgis was conducting welding work repairs, he had to remove asbestos lagging from the pipes before he made repairs. He removed asbestos lagging, usually with a hacksaw, Stanley knife or using his bare hands. It was incredibly dirty and dusty work. The old asbestos lagging was usually in a poor state of repair. Often the companies he worked for had their own laggers who would lag the pipes after they made their repairs. The lagging was carried out just after Mr Burgis had finished his work and so he was present whilst they mixed up the asbestos lagging from sacks of raw asbestos.

Tracing the defendant companies

AJF Limited was no longer trading and had been dissolved as a legal entity, it was therefore necessary to try and trace the insurer of this company in order to obtain compensation for Mr Burgis. An ELTO (Employer liability tracing office) search revealed no insurer for AJF Limited; Mr Burgis’s main exposer. It was necessary therefore to pursue York Trailers where Mr Burgis was also exposed to asbestos but to a lesser degree.  

The claim against York Trailers had challenging issues relating to the amounts of exposure to asbestos, alleged breaches of duty, causation etc. Nevertheless, Boyes Turner continued to fight for justice on Mr Burgis’ behalf a successful conclusion to his claim was reached with Mr Burgis being awarded £100,000 in compensation for his mesothelioma.

Before the claim against York Trailers was successfully concluded, a further ELTO search revealed an insurer for AJF Limited. After settling the claim against the first company  (the daughter of Mr Burgis as by then sadly Mr Burgis had died from mesothelioma) brought a claim against AJF Limited. This claim was settled for £1 million net making the total amount recovered, £1.1 million.

Valuing Mr Burgis’ claim

The quantum position of  this claim was unusual. Mr Burgis was not married. He had a life partner,  a daughter and a stepdaughter whom he treated as his daughter. The bulk of the claim therefore related to the dependency claim for Mr Burgis’s three dependants. Mr Burgis had a very successful company which generated very substantial wealth. Rather than value the claim under conventional expert accountancy evidence, the claim instead was based on the degree to which Mr Burgis would have provided for his life partner, his daughter and his stepdaughter in the future.

The dependency claim was challenged by the defendant but following negotiations the claim was successfully settled in Mr Burgis’ favour in the sum of £1.1 million.

Boyes Turner’s specialist asbestos disease lawyers

Boyes Turner are one of the largest legal services providers in the Thames Valley and operate one of the largest specialist industrial disease teams in the country.

Boyes Turner pride themselves on being able to take on the cases that other lawyers deem to have a lack of prospects and in being able to succeed where others have failed. The success in cases like Mr Burgis’ conforms with Boyes Turners ethos of obtaining justice for mesothelioma victims and ensuring asbestos victims and their families are properly compensated.