Mr B was employed by United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority being based at Harwell from 1963 until he retired in September 2003. He was taken on as a laboratory trainee to technician, qualifying in 1966 when he joined the Engineering Support Group (industrial side), operating out of Building 220 of the Harwell Laboratory.
From 1966 he was in the Engineering and Support Group for Scientific Research, before becoming a Scientific Assistant between 1969 and 1971 when he was involved with process technology. He then became an Assistant Scientific Officer in 1971; joining the Chemistry Division in 1975 as an ASO before becoming a Scientific Officer in 1980, still working in the Chemistry Division.
He continued with the Chemistry Division until 1990. From 1990 until 2000 he was in the Experimental Studies Department, Radwaste Disposable Division, PMG. Finally he was a Nuclear Science Logistics Officer until he retired in 2003.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Mr B recalled disturbing asbestos seals on the glass ovens as he was required to regularly open and shut the oven doors. There were also asbestos lagged pipes in the changing rooms that Mr B used between 1966 and 1975. The pipes were at ground and height level. He recalled that the asbestos lagging was often in poor condition and dust gathered on top of the lockers. He knocked the lagging getting asbestos dust on his overalls.
The cleaners used a machine with hard brushes which rotated on the floor. This process disturbed the asbestos and released the fibres. There was also a changing room which was housed in a void beneath a room in the courtyard. This was where Mr B exchanged his dirty “whites” for clean ones. Again, there was exposed asbestos lagging on the pipe work, often he believed, in poor condition.
Symptoms of the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, began in December 2013 with lower back pain. Mr B had recurrent pleural effusions and underwent lung drainage and a VATS biopsy. He underwent five cycles of chemotherapy and suffered with some nasty side effects.
Mr B’s employer until 1996 was UKAEA when there was a change in employer at that time to AEA Technology PLC. Mr B was engaged at Harwell throughout the duration of his time with UKAEA and AEA Technology PLC. The representatives for UKAEA initially refused to meet Mr B’s claim for damages on account of a transfer agreement.
On 31 March 1996 UKAEA transferred its rights and liabilities to AEA Technology PLC pursuant to the Atomic Energy Authority Act 1995. In effect Mr B’s employment was also transferred pursuant to TUPE from UKAEA to AEA Technology PLC. The difficulty was that Mr B was unable to sue AEA Technology PLC. The latter company subsequently changed its name to Robin A Technology Realisations PLC and is in voluntary creditors’ liquidation.
Although we notified the claim to the liquidators, and obtained judgment in default against Robin A Technology Realisations PLC, it was unlikely that Mr B would receive any substantial damages from Robin A Technology Realisations PLC, if anything at all.
We successfully traced an insurance policy which covered the period from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 for liabilities of UKAEA and subsidiary companies. The policy stated that pre-April 1990 industrial disease losses were included and after some months, the solicitors for UKAEA agreed that this was the relevant insurance policy which covered Mr B’s period of employment.
The defendants made an offer to settle Mr B’s claim at full value just under 12 months after we were initially instructed and the offer was accepted.