January 31, 2018

Claim for Mesothelioma sufferer – a Mum who laundered her son’s work clothes who died in 2003 settled (more than) 10 years after the expiry of the limitation period.


RWK Goodman have recently settled a claim for a Mesothelioma sufferer who died in May 2003 aged 75. M was the mother of son who worked as an apprentice for the London Electricity Board.  M used to do DM’s laundry.  In 2003 she developed and died from Mesothelioma which is an asbestos related illness.  She and her family were only asked where she had worked with asbestos, they weren’t aware that asbestos can occur as a result of secondary exposure from other family members work clothes.  It was only when Mrs M’s other son, Raymond, was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in 2015 that it even occurred to them that their mother may have also developed Mesothelioma as a result of DM’s work.

Raymond’s case proceeded against the London Electricity Board’s successors and they admitted liability for allowing his brother to come home with asbestos on his work clothes.

There is a 3 year time limit from an individuals diagnosis or date of death to bring a claim for compensation. However this 3 year time limit can be extended if the court considers it would be equitable to disapply it and this depends on whether the defendants can show any prejudice in investigating the claim later than they would have done if it had been presented to them within the primary limitation period.

RWK Goodman pursued the claim for M arguing that the defendants were no more prejudiced in investigating her claim than they had been in investigating the claim for her son Raymond which had been bought in time and dealt with on an admission.  Indeed the London Electricity Board’s successors admitted that they negligently exposed Mrs M to asbestos through DM’s work clothes as well.  However, even though Mrs M’s exposure to asbestos as the launderer of the work clothes was more intense than her son, Raymond’s exposure to asbestos as a result of simply sharing a bedroom with his brother the defendants disputed that M’s contact with asbestos on DM’s work clothes caused her to develop mesothelioma.

RWK Goodman were instructed to pursue the claim in the Spring of 2016 following the receipt of an admission in Raymond’s claim. It was met with an outright denial because of the expiry of the limitation period and as soon as M’s medical notes and records had been received, medical evidence was obtained and court proceedings were commenced.  The claim was defended and was listed to go to trial in June 2018.  However the claim settled for in excess of £50,000 and about 75% of the realistic full valuation of the claim in January 2018, just over 4 months due to trial and insurers agreed to back the claim.

Helen Childs of RWK Goodman commented:

“Many solicitors will not consider claims where they are being instructed close to the expiry of the 3 year time limit let alone claims where the 3 year time limit has already expired.  However, the law regarding limitation for court proceedings is complicated, needing specialist legal input and we consider every claim on its merits.  As a result we accepted instructions to represent Mrs M’s family in a claim for compensation for mesothelioma where she died more than 13 years previously.  We argued we could establish that the defendants weren’t prejudiced in investigating the circumstances of exposure because sadly Mrs M’s son, Raymond had developed mesothelioma himself in 2015 through the same circumstances of exposure.  Anyone with a query regarding time limits should seek specialist legal advice.”

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