March 20, 2015

Widow of Swansea welder wins High Court battle

The widow of a welder who died from mesothelioma has won a significant High Court ruling with important implications for other victims of industrial diseases.

In a decisive judgment which has been released today (Friday, 20 March), Her Honour Justice Laing has allowed a claim brought by widow Julien Lloyd on behalf of her late husband Cliff, to proceed, even though it was beyond the normal three year time limit for bringing such claims and despite the fact that there had already been a previous settlement against three of his former employers.

Julien Lloyd, whose husband Cliff developed mesothelioma many years after working at Port Talbot, Swansea, is bringing a claim for compensation against her late husband’s former employers Humphreys and Glasgow, with the help of Withy King's industrial diseases expert Helen Childs. This action is being brought, despite Mr Lloyd having agreed a “full and final” settlement in the past against three other firms he previously worked for.

Helen Childs, who specialises in asbestos-related cases and pursued the claim on behalf of the Lloyds, said: “This judgment is very good news for Mrs Lloyd and potentially for hundreds of other families. The case was recognised as being of great importance and will impact significantly on the way mesothelioma claims are handled.

“Mr Lloyd’s claim was handled by another firm of solicitors who settled for full and final damages against three of his previous employers, just months before he died from mesothelioma. A further significant employer was not included in the settlement because they were not settling any claims at that time. This judgment confirms that individuals who pursue claims against defendants who were missing from previous settlements are able in principle to do so and that the expiry of the normal three year time limit does not bar such a claim from proceeding.

“Anyone who develops mesothelioma or lung cancer should seek specialist legal advice. Particularly anyone who develops mesothelioma or lung cancer having had a previous claim against some but not all of their prior employers.”

Speaking after today’s High Court judgement, Mrs Lloyd said: “We are relieved that we may at last be able to see justice done. Cliff was a fit man until industry ruined him. He lost his hearing and then he lost his life all through working in dreadful conditions. He was a grafter. He was a loving, hands on, friendly man who loved to make toys for his children, nephews and grandchildren. We had such plans for our retirement. I know what I have lost, his companionship, his love, my best pal and my gentle husband of 55 years, a father and grandfather who we all miss dreadfully. Cliff suffered terribly and died the most horrible and painful death. I would hate to think of other people having to go through what we went through.”

Humphreys and Glasgow was a large welding and pipe fitting firm which went into liquidation in the late 1980s leaving debts of more than £20,000,000. Humphreys and Glasgow was insured by Excess Insurance Company which refused to pay out on any asbestos related claims from 2006 onwards pending the outcome of a Court decision on what triggered liability for insurers. That Court decision eventually went against Excess Insurance in March 2012.

Mr Lloyd, who instructed a former firm in 2004, was caught by the refusal of Excess Insurance Company to pay out on claims. By the time the court hearing went against Excess Insurance Company in 2012, Mr Lloyd was already desperately unwell with mesothelioma and died in early May 2012.

His widow instructed Withy King to pursue a claim for damages as Humphreys and Glasgow had not been included in the original settlement of Mr Lloyd’s claim.

Humphreys and Glasgow’s insurers refused to pay. They argue that it was an abuse of the Court’s process to allow Mr Lloyd’s claim to proceed and that the claim was also out of time.

The claim will now be reviewed by the High Court which will go on to give judgment on whether Humphreys and Glasgow are liable to pay Mrs Lloyd compensation and if so, how much. The compensation is expected to be a substantial six figure sum if the claim succeeds. How long this will take to conclude now will depend on whether the defendants are granted leave to appeal the decision of Her Honour Justice Laing.

The Clifford Lloyd Education Fund

Mr Lloyd had a thirst for knowledge and told us that if life had dealt him a different hand of cards he would have loved to have been a teacher. As a tribute to him, we have established the Clifford Lloyd Education Fund and are offering discretionary £250 bursaries to professionals involved in the care and treatment of patients with mesothelioma and lung cancer. The bursaries are to assist with the costs of attending the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses and British Thoracic Oncology Group annual conferences.

To apply for a Clifford Lloyd bursary, please visit royds-real.local/asbestos/bursaries

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