Arnold* came across asbestos daily when working for a ship building company. He worked on the ship building side for the majority of his employment and moved over to the repair side of the company for the last nine months of his employment. During his employment, he was working in boiler rooms, in the shipyard and on the funnels at the new docks. He was exposed to asbestos through the entire period of his employment. Arnold was working making new boilers which were all put in situ. The inner casing was steel and then it was lagged with asbestos. He was also in the vicinity of laggers who used blocks of asbestos to lag boilers. Arnold stated that the lagging was filthy work and there was a layer of dust on the floor and many of the laggers were working above him. Arnold also needed to remove asbestos lagging in order to do maintenance work and would hack it off with a hammer and chisel. Arnold was not provided with any warning of the dangers of asbestos.
Arnold began to feel incredibly poorly in summer 2021. He was very fatigued and constipated and spoke to his GP. His GP suggested a colonoscopy and also an enema. With no resolution, Arnold took himself to Accident and Emergency where he was given a CT scan and was later admitted. He was an inpatient for four to five days and it was clear from the CT scan that he had a malignancy and biopsies were taken. Arnold was not told the result of the biopsies for some time but was later advised that he was suffering with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Arnold was very fit and healthy prior to him falling poorly and he did all the DIY around the house, as well as the gardening.
Laura was instructed by Arnold in August 2018 and arranged a home visit 48 hours later. She took a witness statement and Laura applied for Arnold’s medical records and drafted a letter of claim to the Defendants in the case. Arnold sadly deteriorated rapidly and he was referred to the Community Palliative Team. He died within a week of instructing Laura. Arnold’s wife Christine*, who was the executrix, took over the claim and Laura instructed a medical expert who completed a report which confirmed Arnold’s diagnosis. Laura successfully secured an interim payment on damages within 7 weeks of receiving instructions. Laura drafted a schedule of loss which involved getting a life expectancy report from Arnold’s wife, Christine’s GP in order to quantify a claim for her dependency on Arnold’s income. Laura completed the schedule of loss and got instructions on making a Part 36 offer in order to bring matters to a close. After discussions with the Defendants, Christine’s claim settled for £178,500.00 gross.
This case emphasises the importance in taking a witness statement as soon as instructed. Laura took this statement 48 hours after she was contacted resulting in her having lifetime evidence to proceed with the claim. It may have been difficult to understand how Arnold was exposed to asbestos without his lifetime evidence and this was therefore extremely important.
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