Posted by Rachel James, Senior Associate
Doosan Babcock Metallurgist receives compensation
Rachel James, Associate Solicitor in our Industrial Disease team was instructed by Andrew’s family in March 2017.
Andrew had been diagnosed with Mesothelioma 6 months previously. He had been diagnosed with Korsakoff’s syndrome several years previously, which caused him to have symptoms of dementia. Andrew had been living in a state funded care home, focused awards the care of people with dementia.
Andrew had been exposed to asbestos when he worked as a trainee Metallurgist for Doosan Babcock. Part of his work involved using asbestos blanket to insulate parts of the metal tests were carried out on. The manipulation of the asbestos blanket caused asbestos dust and fibres to be released.
After leaving Doosan Babcock and working in some other temporary jobs, Andrew moved to Australia, where he married, started a family and set up his own skip hire business. In middle age, he developed alcoholism which caused him to develop Korsakoff’s syndrome.
As Andrew did not have capacity to manage his financial affairs, his son was appointed to act for his as his litigation friend. Initially, Doosan Babcock’s insurers agreed to pay Andrews’ claim, but withdrew their agreement upon receiving his medical records and realising he had Korsakoff’s syndrome.
As the insurers failed to agree to pay an interim payment to Andrew, proceedings were issued in August 2018. In its Defence, Doosan Babcock alleged that people with Korsakoff’s syndrome have a tendency to confabulate, filling in missing gaps in the memory with fabricated events that the person is convinced are true. Doosan Babcock alleged that as a consequence of Andrew’s Korsakoff’s syndrome, his evidence could most likely be an unintentionally fabricated version of events, therefore not be relied upon.
Rachel James carried out a witness appeal for witnesses that worked for Doosan Babcock at the same time or around the same time as Andrew. Multiple witnesses came forward, both those who knew Andrew, and some who didn’t. All of the witness evidence given supported the version of events given in Andrew’s statement. Andrew’s family also gave witness statements, which confirmed that Andrew’s Korsakoff’s syndrome presented like dementia, he had an accurate and detailed long term memory, but his short term memory was very badly affected. Andrew’s family confirmed he rarely confabulated.
On considering the evidence, judgement was entered in Andrew’s favour. An interim payment was ordered, but it was requested that it not be paid until Andrew’s benefits situation was established. Andrew had been receiving means tested benefits, which funded the care that he was receiving as a consequence of his Korsakoff syndrome. In order that Andrew did not lose his state funded care, Rachel James had to establish whether it was possible to preserve Andrew’s means tested benefits in Australia if he received compensation and how to do it!
Andrew’s care home was also found not to be suitable for a person with Mesothelioma as the home was not focused towards providing nursing care and did not have facilities that were suitable for Andrew. A nursing care specialist was instructed in Australia assess suitable care facilities for Andrew.
Prior to bringing his claim, Andrew had undergone Chemotherapy treatment, which had stabilised his condition for sometime. He and his family were interested in any further treatments that could extend his life expectancy and improve his quality of life. While immunotherapy was available in Australia, most patients accessed it through immunotherapy trials, which had not been offered to Andrew. A report from Andrew’s treating consultant was sought on his suitability for immunotherapy treatment, and a report was sought from an Oncology expert to see if Andrew would be a suitable candidate for treatment. Unfortunately, by the time a report was prepared, Andrew’s condition had progress too far for him to be able to have treatment
Andrew’s case settled for £130,000.00 and as a consequence, Andrew has been able to change his care arrangements so that he has a better of quality of life during his final months. He has been able to go and see the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and keep up with his passion of Motor sport by being able to access pay to view TV in his new accommodation.
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