Posted by Jennifer Seavor, Partner
Damages for ex-pat living in Chile against CEGB and Babcock & Wilcox
In July 2016, Mr T contacted specialist asbestos diseases solicitor Jennifer Seavor following his diagnosis of asbestosis in June of the same year.
Mr T had experienced some symptoms of breathlessness, but initially put this down to his age. However, his breathlessness continued to progress. In early 2016 Mr T underwent some scans, which later revealed asbestosis.
Mr T is a permanent resident of Chile, but had previously lived and worked in the UK, so Jennifer was able to advise him about a claim for compensation. Jennifer assisted Mr T in applying for government benefits to which he was entitled as a result of his diagnosis.
Mr T described to Jennifer how he had worked for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in the late 1950s and throughout his employment, had been exposed to asbestos whilst working on a number of contracts. Mr T worked initially as an auxiliary plant attendant, and later as a unit operator. He worked at a number of power stations including Castle Donnington, Richborough, West Thurrock, Blyth B, Ferrybridge C, many of which were under construction. Many trades would be working in the same area together and a large amount of lagging work was undertaken. Mr T was working alongside all of these trades, including laggers. Asbestos was often mixed in large drums with water to be applied to pipes. Mr T could recall the working environment being very dusty and described the open mesh/grated floors that meant dust spread all around the site. He explained how his hair and overalls would often be covered with dust. There was no extraction ventilation, no breathing protection and no warnings of the dangers of asbestos. As a result, Mr T was exposed to considerable asbestos dust.
Mr T later worked at Babcock & Wilcox in the mid 1960s. He was employed by the company as a service engineer and again worked on a number of different sites around the world, many of them power stations or factories. Once again, throughout his employment with the company, Mr T often worked alongside laggers who were using asbestos lagging. Mr T also often worked around boilers and pipework in premises, meaning older, friable asbestos lagging would be disturbed, releasing asbestos dust.
A letter of claim was sent to the two companies and breach of duty was admitted by the successors of the CEGB. Medical evidence was obtained from a consultant respiratory physician and a consultant radiologist. Both supported the diagnosis of asbestosis. Apportionment of the claim was complex as Mr T had worked at so many sites around the world.
An initial offer of settlement was made, but there was no response, so court proceedings were issued in order to progress Mr T’s claim.
Just prior to the first court hearing, both defendants agreed to judgment being entered in favour of Mr T. The court then put into place direction leading to a final hearing called an ‘assessment of damages’. However, the parties entered into negotiations and settlement was agreed in the sum of £35,000.