June 7, 2016

Settlement of claim for mesothelioma despite previous full and final settlement for pleural plaques

Mr B had served an apprenticeship at Swindon Railway Works, before working for plumbing / pipe fitting firms including Drake and Scull and Young Austen and Young. He worked on such well-known building projects as the Wyvern Theatre and the Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon. Mr B was 72 when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011.

Years previously, he had been diagnosed with developed pleural plaques (areas of asymptomatic asbestos-related scarring in the lungs) and had instructed another Swindon solicitor who settled his claim for pleural plaques in full against the railway works. They did this without obtaining Mr B’s employment history or taking a full statement from him.

He settled his claim on a "full and final settlement" basis, meaning he wouldn’t be able to sue the Railway Works for further compensation if he went on to develop any other asbestos-related conditions. These were the terms of his settlement, despite a relatively high 11% risk of him developing mesothelioma.

When Mr B did develop mesothelioma a few years later, he went back to his original firm of solicitors who told him there was nothing further that could be done.

In the meantime, several articles in the legal press had suggested a second claim might be possible, and the reported cases of Dowdall and our own claim of Lloyd v Humphries and Glasgow were making their way through the courts. Both cases confirmed that it was possible to pursue previously unsued defendants for damages for mesothelioma following an earlier full and final settlement against other defendants.

Mr B died in June 2013. His widow, Mrs B, then approached our Industrial Diseases team at one of our free Swindon asbestos advice drop in sessions. We took on the case against Drake and Scull and Young Austen and Young and pursued them for damages for mesothelioma despite the previous full and final settlement for plaques.

Witness evidence was obtained from workers who had also worked at Young Austen and Young and Drake and Scull. They confirmed the use of asbestos at both companies was very widespread.

On that basis Helen Childs was able to negotiate a six figure settlement for Mrs B including the repayment of benefits to the government. After the claim concluded Mrs B said in a letter to Helen, "That is fantastic, you are brilliant! Thank you so much for all of the work you have done to achieve this amazing result".

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