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Written by Laura Magson

Laura Magson acted for Michael who was diagnosed by his treating consultant in 2019 with asbestosis and pleural thickening. His asbestos related conditions were discovered as an incidental finding by a cardiologist as Michael was being seen for heart conditions, in particular valvular heart disease requiring aortic valve replacement. He had received treatment for heart failure. He was also suffering with haemolytic anaemia and had liver cirrhosis, both of which which had an adverse effect on his life expectancy. 

Laura obtained a supportive medical report which agreed with the treating consultant's that Michael was suffering with asbestosis and also asbestos related pleural thickening.

Automotive Products Limited

Michael was exposed to asbestos when working for Automotive Products Limited in Banbury. He was a machinist in the main factory, making brake and clutch linings for cars and larger vehicles. He trimmed the linings and pads which were made of asbestos also blowing down his machine with a compressed air line. Laura traced the company history of Automotive Products Limited and discovered it was a company that was in liquidation, but we knew the identity of the employers' liability insurers for the period that Michael worked there and notified the claim to them.

Michael very sadly passed away in October 2020 after deteriorating with shortness of breath and fatigue. He commenced morphine to try and aid his breathlessness and was told that his prognosis was a matter of months in the autumn of 2020. This was a shocking blow to the family, made all the more difficult because of the challenges from the pandemic. The post mortem report was surprisingly unsupportive of the legal claim. There was no evidence of asbestosis (fibrosis) or asbestos bodies at post mortem and the cause of death was bronchopneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and liver cirrhosis. Our medical expert confirmed that Michael suffered from many illnesses which made him more susceptible to developing pneumonia and he did not believe that the additional asbestos related disease significantly affected his overall susceptibility to link to pneumonia. On balance therefore, he believed that Michael would have died as a result of pneumonia in October 2020 irrespective of asbestos related disease. Our medical expert believed that there was still some evidence of asbestos related pleural thickening on the most recent CT scan and supported that Michael was suffering from asbestos related pleural thickening during his lifetime which was causing him an increased respiratory disability. He believed that he had a 50% respiratory disability overall of which 20% was due to pleural thickening, 10% due to COPD and 20% due to heart disease.

The supportive medical report brought about an offer from the Defendant which Laura advised Michael's wife was not sufficient to satisfy the claim. Michael's wife rejected the offer and the Defendant's increased their offer by 25% which Michael's wife was happy to accept.

Laura says

"Michael was very unwell due to other conditions during his lifetime, but it was clear to his treating consultant that Michael was suffering from asbestos related illness which was adding to Michael's symptoms. It was so very sad that Michael passed away during the progress of his claim. The Defendant admitted liability just two days after Michael died and unfortunately he was never aware that they had admitted that they breached their duty of care towards him many years ago. The case was particularly challenging because the postmortem report was unsupportive for asbestosis which both the treating consultant and our medico-legal expert believed that Michael had suffered with during his lifetime. Nevertheless, there was still evidence that he had asbestos related diffuse pleural thickening which was causing him a 20% respiratory disability. Although he would have passed away despite suffering with asbestos related disease, it is right and just that Michael's wife was compensated for the pain and suffering that Michael endured during his lifetime. I feel privileged to be able to be one of their close contacts during the difficult time of the pandemic and I was pleased to be able to meet Michael and his wife at his home and to get know him well despite his complex medical needs."