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We acted for Peter in an asbestos claim, he believed that he was suffering with asbestos related pleural thickening following exposure to asbestos at work.

Peter came into contact with asbestos dust whilst working for West Yorkshire Foundries as a bricklayer when he was employed by A Maude and Sons Limited and Sharp & Giles. He was required to strip out and realign the furnaces at the foundry. The furnaces were lined with asbestos-based fire bricks and Peter cut and fitted asbestos paper around the inside of the furnaces. He also used dry asbestos powder to line the furnaces.

He was employed by A Maude and Sons Limited from around 1957 until 1965/66. He was then employed by Sharp & Giles between around 1966/67 to 1970/71. He was based at West Yorkshire Foundry during both of these employments. 

A Maude and Sons Limited were dissolved in approximately 1976 and all records at Companies House were destroyed. Despite undertaking enquiries to try to trace the insurers of A Maude and Sons Limited, there were no positive results.

We were, however, successful in tracing the insurers for Sharp & Giles (which was a firm) and the claim was pursued against Sharp & Giles and BAE Systems Global Combat Systems Limited (as successors to West Yorkshire Foundries Limited). A Maude and Sons Limited were subcontracted to West Yorkshire Foundries according to Peter’s witness statement.

Disagreement between medical experts

We instructed a medico-legal expert to prepare a report on Peter’s condition. Our expert confirmed that Peter was indeed suffering from an asbestos disease, diffuse pleural thickening, which was causing him a respiratory disability of 5%. He had a further 60% respiratory disability due to other conditions, such as heart disease, which were not asbestos-related.

The defendants’ expert, on the other hand, believed that Peter was suffering from a respiratory disability of 60% but that none of this was due to asbestos-related pleural thickening. In effect, the defendants’ medical expert believed that Peter was asymptomatic due to asbestos disease. 

Future risks

Both experts agreed that Peter had risks of developing other asbestos-related conditions in the future. Peter’s expert was of the opinion that he had a 5% risk of contracting mesothelioma (an asbestos-related cancer) and a 5% risk that he may contract lung cancer. Finally his risk of developing asbestosis was in the order of 2%. This contrasted to a 3% mesothelioma risk and 1% asbestosis risk according to the defendants’ expert. The defendants’ expert did not believe that Peter’s occupational exposure to asbestos dust had increased his risk of contracting lung cancer over and above that associated with his history of smoking.

Settlement  

The case settled on a ‘provisional damages basis’. This means that Peter received some compensation for his contraction of pleural thickening, but has the right to return to Court at a later date if he were to develop any of the following diseases or conditions:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestos-related lung cancer
  • Asbestosis giving rise to a disability of 10% or more
  • A deterioration in his pleural thickening so as to cause a ‘significantly increased respiratory disability’