Former employee of The Wellcome Foundation and The Tucker Partnership receives compensation and payment of future private treatment costs
Mr B began to feel unwell in February 2022 when he started to experience chest pain and breathlessness. He underwent chest x-rays, scans and a biopsy and, in May 2022, he received the devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Mr B contacted RWK Goodman’s specialist asbestos disease team. Laura Wilkinson, a Senior Associate in the team, visited Mr B at home to discuss his asbestos exposure and take a detailed witness statement from him.
Mr B was employed by The Wellcome Foundation as a building draughtsman from 1966 to 1969. He described how, during this employment, he was exposed to asbestos dust.
Mr B regularly visited buildings at the employer’s Dartford site to conduct surveys when building work was going on. Whilst on site, Mr B was in the vicinity of others who were cutting, nailing, and sanding down asbestos sheets. He often also saw damaged asbestos lagging hanging from pipework and walked amongst the asbestos dust. Mr B was not provided with any breathing protection nor warned of the dangers of asbestos and so was exposed to large quantities of asbestos dust.
Mr B was also exposed to large quantities of asbestos dust during his employment with what eventually became The Tucker Partnership between Tax Years 1973/73 and 2008. He was initially employed as an architectural assistant, but later became an associate and then a director and shareholder of the company.
During his employment, Mr B regularly visited sites where tradesman handled, cut and installed various asbestos materials. Mr B also visited sites where old buildings were renovated and refitted. This disturbed significant amounts of asbestos material, causing vast amounts of asbestos dust to be produced. Again, during this employment, Mr B worked without any breathing apparatus, any warnings of the dangers of asbestos, instruction or training in how to work safely with asbestos. Mr B had no alternative but to breathe in large amounts of asbestos dust.
Given Mr B’s terminal diagnosis, it was of paramount importance to progress his claim as quickly as possible. The Tucker Partnership and The Wellcome Foundation were no longer trading and so it was necessary to trace the insurers on risk at the time of Mr B’s asbestos exposure so that the claim could be brought against them.
The Wellcome Foundation’s insurers disclosed documentary evidence relevant to the claim and further witness evidence from Mr B was later served on them in response to specific questions raised about the circumstances of his asbestos exposure. Medical evidence from a Respiratory Consultant was also obtained and served on the Defendant insurers in support of Mr B’s claim.
In the meantime, Mr B underwent palliative chemotherapy on the NHS. Mr B was keen to consider other treatments in the future and so we instructed a Consultant Oncologist to prepare a report commenting on Mr B’s suitability for the same, including privately-funded immunotherapy.
In the absence of any admission of liability from either Defendant insurer, we swiftly issued Court proceedings in the High Court against both Defendants. Court proceedings were then served on the Defendants’ nominated solicitors and a date for an initial Case Management Conference (“CMC”) between both parties’ representatives and a Master of the High Court was laid down.
The CMC did not take place in the end given that the Defendant solicitors admitted liability beforehand. Directions to ensure the future progress of the claim were then agreed.
After quantifying the claim, we entered settlement negotiations with the Defendants and we secured a six figure settlement sum for Mr B. A Court order was also agreed with the Defendant solicitors allowing Mr B to be reimbursed for any private medical treatment he may undergo in the future.
Laura Wilkinson commented: “I was so pleased to be able to achieve some justice for Mr B within a year of his initial instructions, meaning that he can focus on making memories and enjoying precious time with his family. He has the reassurance of knowing that he can seek private medical treatment if and when he and his treating oncologist feel the time is right. He also knows that his wife will be supported financially in the future.”