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Boyes Turner’s industrial disease specialists have obtained a settlement of £100,000 for the bereaved partner of a man who died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma

Brian instructed us after his mesothelioma diagnosis. He told us that he worked with asbestos whilst he was at AWRE, Aldermaston, from around 1961 to 1966. He was an apprentice carpenter/joiner for a company called W. E. Chivers and Sons Limited, where he cut corrugated asbestos sheets by handsaw. He described regular handsawing of both asbestos cement sheets and asbestos insulating board (AIB) throughout his employment. He also thought that he swept up Asbestolux (AIB), bagging it up at the end of a job. He worked just a few feet away from maintenance men/plumbers who carried out repairs to pipes that involved the removal of asbestos lagging. 

In order to succeed with Brian’s claim, we needed to establish that Brian suffered exposure to “substantial” levels of asbestos-containing dust. Handsawing of asbestos sheets and asbestos insulating board (such as Asbestolux) is currently not deemed to amount to “substantial” asbestos exposure. The sweeping up of asbestos dust and debris is regarded as “substantial”. Brian believed that he probably did this, but neither we, nor the defendants had any witness evidence.

Dissolved Defendant

W. E. Chivers and Sons Limited were dissolved some years ago. We, therefore, needed to trace the employers’ liability insurers to notify them of the claim. We found the correct insurers for Brian’s period of employment but those insurers are in a scheme of arrangement which meant that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) meets any compensation payment. As Brian’s asbestos exposure occurred prior to 1972 (when employers’ liability insurance first became compulsory), the FSCS only pay out at the rate of 90% of any agreed settlement.

Medical evidence

The insurers for W. E. Chivers and Sons Limited denied liability, so we obtained a report from a consultant respiratory physician to enable us to issue proceedings at the High Court, if necessary. Sadly, Brian died just six months after diagnosis. Our respiratory physician confirmed that the cause of his death was mesothelioma which had shortened his life by ten years. Brian’s life expectancy had also been reduced by cerebrovascular illness.  He also had papillary thyroid carcinoma, so we obtained a report from a specialist oncologist who believed Brian would have survived for ten years after treatment of the carcinoma.

After Brian passed away, his partner, Violet, continued the claim on behalf of Brian’s estate and also in relation to her own loss of dependency. Although Brian and Violet were not married, they had lived together for over 40 years as “husband and wife” and Violet was dependent on Brian for his income but also services around the home.

Settlement  

The defendant denied that Brian’s exposure to asbestos would have been in breach of duty according to the standards of the time but they made a settlement offer of £100,000, which Violet accepted. Although no amount of money can compensate Violet for the loss of her lifelong partner, Violet is pleased that the case concluded without the need for court and that we were also able to recover some funds for the hospice which provided regular day visits to Brian during the final stages of his illness.  

For further information about claims for hospice care, please contact the mesothelioma and asbestos claims team by email idclaims@boyesturner.com.