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Our asbestos claims team were instructed by a former British Sugar employee who had been diagnosed with asbestosis. The 88 year old had worked for British Sugar at their factory in King’s Lynn as a cleaner/labourer from 1978 to 1986. He was involved in cleaning the British Sugar factory every year during a 7 week shutdown period. It was during these annual shutdowns that the client suffered exposure to asbestos dust. 

It was during these annual shutdowns that the client suffered exposure to asbestos dust. He was in the vicinity of laggers who removed and replaced asbestos lagging from and to the maze of asbestos lagged pipes around the factory as he went about his work. The client also used a high pressure hose to remove the dust that had built up on beams and other surfaces inside the factory, which he believed saw him disturbing asbestos dust that had fallen onto the surfaces from the surrounding asbestos lagged pipework over time.

Medical evidence was obtained to support a diagnosis of asbestosis. The medical expert estimated that the client was suffering from a respiratory disability of 40%, 10% of which was asbestos related and the remaining 30% of which was related to the client’s known ischaemic heart disease. The medical expert further concluded that it was likely the client’s asbestosis would progress to cause an additional 5% disability during the remainder of his lifetime and that there was a 2% risk the client would develop mesothelioma or lung cancer and a 0.5% risk that he would contract diffuse pleural thickening during the remainder of his lifetime.

Unfortunately, Employers’ Liability Insurance could not be traced for the other two employers for whom the client had worked on and off as a carpenter with asbestos-based materials during the 1950s and 1960s. As both employments pre-dated 1972 when Employers’ Liability Insurance was made compulsory it was possible that such insurance did not exist and this was all the more likely given that both employers were one man bands. As asbestosis is what is known as a “divisible” condition, the fact that insurance cover could not be traced meant that compensation could not be claimed in respect of the client’s asbestos exposure during these two employment periods.

Our asbestos claims team successfully argued that the client’s exposure to asbestos with British Sugar was more intense compared to that which he suffered during the other periods of employment where asbestos exposure was alleged. British Sugar therefore agreed to meet 50% of the claim value as opposed to what would have been 40% if apportionment was calculated on the normal time exposed basis.

A settlement was negotiated with British Sugar in the sum of £17,794.