CASE 1: £316,000 AWARDED TO Mrs. G FROM ESSO PETROLEUM
In the 1960′s, Mr. G had worked as a lagger’s mate and an apprentice engineer at the Fawley Oil Refinery owned by Esso…
During that period he was exposed to asbestos. He suffered no other exposure during his life. in August 2007 Mr. G was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. He sadly passed away in December 2007 aged 60 and the claim was taken over by his widow, who along with their adult son had been completely financially dependent on him. Following his death she had needed to start working. The claim was successful and the Widow was awarded £316,000 in damages.
The award was high for the following reasons
Esso Petroleum Co Ltd admitted liability but disputed the amount of compensation to be awarded and the case therefore progressed to an assessment at the Royal Courts of Justice. The main arguments were in respect of the following:-
What age would the man have retired?
Before he became unwell, he had worked as a Project Engineer in Saudi Arabia for an oil company. He had lived with his wife Saudi Arabia for 20 years until their son left English boarding school in 2005, when she returned to the United Kingdom to care for her son whilst he started training.
Her husband had stayed in Saudi Arabia and continued to support their son financially, including funding his flat, transport and living expenses. He also paid for his wife’s living expenses.
His wife had never worked and had not intended to ever do so. When he passed away he was earning £54,079 per annum and he had been provided with free accommodation, paid expenses and three free flights home each year.
His employer gave written evidence that whilst the retirement age in Saudi Arabia was 60, extensions could be granted for 1 – 2 year terms thereafter. An ex-employee of the Saudi Oil Company attended the trial and gave evidence that employment beyond 60 was not unusual. It was argued on behalf of his widow that he would have worked to 65 or perhaps longer. Although this was disputed by Esso, the Court was content that he would have worked until age 65.
Their son’s dependency
Their son was aged 22 but was training as a sound engineer and not being paid and it was unclear when he would start to be paid.
It was ruled that a 25% self spend deduction should be applied because nowadays parents supported children in training much longer than they did in the past. Esso had argued for a 34% deduction on the basis that by the age of 22, their son should have been working. This decision changed the law in respect of the approach to dependency claims and at what age a non minor would be considered a ‘dependent’.
Was an award for loss of a husband’s love and affection appropriate in addition to the bereavement award?
The Court awarded £2k in respect of this, in addition to the statutory bereavement award of £10k.
The Court also awarded £16.5k for the DIY and maintenance that Mr S would have carried out in the future and the fact that having a man at home was more convenient that calling a tradesman.
Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £65,000; Regan v Williamson award: £2,000; Service costs: £16,500; Future dependency: £85,986; Pension dependency: £44,375.
Breakdown of Special Damages: Past care costs: £8,500; Past funeral expenses: £3,442; Past travel costs: £2,000; Bereavement £10,000; Cost of past comforts: £1,125; Past dependency for the period December 2007 until October 2009: £74,223; Interest: £3,750.
CASE 2: £200,000 AWARDED TO Mrs. C FROM HM CUSTOMS & EXCISE
Mr. C worked for the Michelin Tyre Plc as a utility man and in a PSC role…
His job included checking and changing asbestos brake pads, which disintegrated over time. He had to handle the brake pads on a daily basis, removing the debris of the old pads and replacing and fixing new pads. Furthermore, he had exposure from the damaged asbestos lining within the lids and hoods of various machinery.
Mr. C was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in December 2008 Sadly,Mr. C died in January 2009 but we were able to take a statement from him during his lifetime, which was invaluable to the claim. We also had the benefit of speaking to former colleagues of his who were able to assist.
A claim for compensation was made with the supportive medical evidence and with all of the witness evidence, however the defendant’s insurers did not accept liability and court proceedings were issued in May 2009.
This resulted in an acceptance of liability and an interim payment to the man’s widow. The claim settled in December 2009 – five weeks before the court hearing when a Judge would have decided the amount of compensation that should be awarded. Mr. C’s Widow received £200,000 in Damages.
CASE 3: £200,000 AWARDED TO Mrs. K FROM SOUTH EASTERN ELECTRICITY BOARD
One of our panel acted for a woman in relation to her husband’s death due to mesothelioma…
Her husband had begun to feel unwell in May 2007, further deteriorating in June 2007. He saw his GP at the end of June and following endoscopies and scans he was diagnosed with asbestos related cancer, later confirmed as mesothelioma. He lost 1 ½ stones in weight in 6 weeks and sadly died from his condition in December 2007.
He had been exposed to asbestos when he worked at the South Eastern Electricity Board, now known as EDF Energy Plc, as an apprentice and then as a commercial electrician. Working on renovations of converted buildings he would regularly have to drill into walls and floors which contained asbestos sound proofing in order to run cables through the buildings.
He had also been exposed when he was employed by Ashland Electrics Limited as an electrician and was subcontracted out to carry out the re-wiring of various London stations including Liverpool Street Station and Stratford Stations. This involved him climbing into the ceiling voids of the station offices through suspended ceilings which were made of old asbestos and drilling and cutting through the asbestos.
The corporate history of both companies was successfully traced and, as Ashland Electrics Limited was a dissolved company we also made an application to the Court to restore the company to the Register. We also managed to trace the Employer’s Liability Insurers for Ashland Electrics Limited.
An interim payment was secured totalling £50,000 in October 2008 and May 2009 and the case successfully settled for £200,000 in August 2009.
CASE 4: £175,000 AWARDED TO Mr. F FROM HM CUSTOMS & EXCISE
Mr. F worked for HM Customs and Excise as a Rummage Officer during the late 1950′s and early to mid 1960′s…
He was exposed to the asbestos whilst inspecting incoming ships for contraband goods and particularly in the boiler rooms where asbestos bricks and asbestos lagged pipe work had to be disturbed in order to conduct his searches. Contraband goods were regularly hidden in old asbestos fire blankets which were found onboard and officers regularly had to unroll these as part of their searches.
He began suffering from chest pain in the winter of 2007 which he initially believed was linked to previous heart problems. In April 2008 he started experiencing shortness of breath which increased in intensity and following a collapse at home he was admitted to hospital where investigations revealed that he was suffering from a large pleural effusion leading to his diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Mr. F made a claim for compensation and successfully obtained an interim payment of £50.000 in March 2009 and the case successfully settled immediately prior to trial for £170,500 in June 2009.
CASE 5: £120,000 AWARDED TO Mrs. H. FROM R B HILTON
Mr.H worked for a large firm which specialised in the heat proofing of new installed furnaces, boilers and distillation units and the refurbishing, cleaning and re-lining of existing equipment…
He was never given any warning about the dangers of asbestos, or provided with any protective equipment despite frequently having to work in clouds of dust containing asbestos particles. He had been exposed to high level of asbestos in the 1940′s and 1950′s whilst working for R B Hilton. He was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in November 2008 aged 78 after he and his wife had retired to Spain. A claim for compensation was successful. £50,000 interim payment was received in May 2009 and a further £70,000 was received in June 2009.
CASE 6: £115,000 AWARDED TO Mr. N FROM STAVERTON CONSTRUCTION
Mr. N worked in the construction industries in the 1970’s and his work involved the demolition of sites that contained asbestos…
He worked directly with asbestos whilst employed by Staverton Construction. Over a long period of time he was in close proximity to high levels of asbestos dust. Mr. N was exposed at various other places of work from 1951. Mr. N was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2008. A claim for compensation was made and he was awarded £115,000 in damages
CASE 7:£60,000 AWARDED TO Mrs. E FROM WERNICKS BUILDINGS
Mr.E, worked in the Building Industry as a Carpenter…
He had been exposed to very high levels of asbestos dust over a long period of time (1951-68 and 1972-80) whilst working for a previous firm and then Wernicks on asbestos clad buildings all over the country. He was not given any warnings about the dangers of asbestos or protective equipment. Mr. E was diagnosed in January 2009 aged 73 with Mesothelioma. One of our panel firms was instructed in January 2009 and court proceedings commenced within 3 months. Sadly Mr. E passed away in May 2009 and the claim was taken over by his Widow. The claim was settled just eight months after instruction. Damages of £60,000 were awarded to Mr. E’s Widow