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Written on 24th November 2021 by

Jack was diagnosed with asbestos related pleural thickening in 2010. Many years prior to this he had worked for three companies 1954 and 1969 as a junior engineer and third engineer.  He worked in engine rooms on board ships, travelling all over the world and also in dry dock.  He used to scale and de-grease equipment in the engine rooms on the ships when they were in dry dock.  In the engine rooms, there were steam pipes, boilers and pumps that were covered in asbestos lagging.   He had to remove asbestos lagging in order to get to pipework or an area which needed repair and attention.  He removed the asbestos lagging using a chisel, saw or knife, or whatever tool was to hand.  He then re-sealed pipework using asbestos tape.  It was also Jack’s job to supervise repair work in the engine rooms and so he was present when asbestos lagging was removed and reapplied. 

Boyes Turner asbestos lawyers represented Jack and in 2012 obtained a provisional damages award for him in the order of £18,500.  The medical expert at the time believed that Jack had a 10% respiratory disability due to asbestos related pleural thickening.

The terms of the Court Order were that Jack could return  for further compensation if he developed one of the following conditions:

The medical expert at the time set out the associated risks of Jack contracting these new conditions.

Mesothelioma diagnosed

In the summer of 2020, Jack started to become more breathless.  He underwent various medical appointments, but it was a difficult time due to the pandemic.  He had a biopsy which was inconclusive and a thoracoscopy was not feasible because he was so poorly at the time.  His treating consultant believed that radiologically his condition was behaving like Mesothelioma and he should be treated as such.  He was having repeated pleural effusions which are often linked to a diagnosis of Mesothelioma.  A doctor recorded “radiological Mesothelioma with recurrent right sided pleural effusions, extensive asbestos exposure, bilateral pleural plaques, too poorly for further investigation”.  An application was made to the Government for a lump sum for Mesothelioma by a Mesothelioma welfare adviser at a Citizens’ Advice Bureau.  The application was made over the telephone, Jack did not see the form and the adviser signed it on his behalf due to the pandemic.  The application was of course made in good faith with the support of the treating consultant.

We quickly notified the three Defendants of the new claim and instructed a medical expert to support the causation of the Mesothelioma.  Very happily, Jack’s condition improved over the subsequent months and the expert did not agree with the treating consultant that Jack had Mesothelioma.  Rather, the expert believed that he had a worsening of asbestos related pleural thickening and pleural effusions.  Sadly though Jack had a limited life expectancy of about one year and a respiratory disability of 50% (of which 35% was due to asbestos related conditions).

Of the 35%, two thirds was due to asbestos related pleural thickening and one third was due to pleural effusions.

DWP Appeal

The DWP made an award of over £14,000 on the basis of the application which put forward a diagnosis of Mesothelioma.  Whilst it was very good news for Jack that he did not in fact have Mesothelioma after all, he was under an obligation to inform the DWP of the change in circumstances. Laura assisted him with this and simultaneously made an application to the DWP to appeal a document called a CRU Certificate.  This is important because at the point of settlement, the £14,000 lump sum would need to be deducted from any gross Court award.  There was a bit of a backlog of appeals due to the pandemic but happily the DWP agreed to Laura’s appeal and the £14,000 lump sum was removed from the CRU Certificate and Jack was not required to pay the amount back.

Settlement

The Defendants then offered £30,000 gross for the increase in respiratory disability due to pleural thickening which Jack was happy to accept.  He continues to receive Attendance Allowance because he has friends and neighbours who help him with cooking, cleaning and household activities (he lives alone).  It is really important that the Attendance Allowance continues at the highest rate so that Jack is best provided for.

Jack’s daughter lives in France, but was able to travel back at certain times to provide much needed support to her Dad even during the pandemic.  She is also providing emotional support from afar. 

Laura says “This is an unusual case in that the treating consultant disagreed with our medical expert, but very happily it is a positive result for Jack.  I am so pleased that his respiratory disability has improved since those early days in the summer of 2020 and that Jack is able to get out on his daily walks in Northumberland.  The legal case was concluded within eleven months despite the delays from the DWP (the CRU appeal took almost six months), but Jack can now concentrate on enjoying the good things in life!”

“We both would like to say a special “Thank you" for all your hard work, it’s been a pleasure chatting things through with you, we are so grateful for your clarity and approach.” (Jack and daughter).

For more information about how the asbestos disease claims team can help you or your loved ones after a diagnosis of an asbestos related disease, please contact the team by email on idclaims@boyesturner.com or by telephone on 0118 952 7199.