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Industrial Disease
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Compensation for family business employee with asbestosis

Charlie was employed by Keenan and Yates Limited from 1955 to 1975. This was a family business and the directors at the beginning of the employment were Charlie’s father and uncle. Later two of the cousins took over the reins of the business. Keenan and Yates were a building company based in St Annes-on-Sea. 

Asbestos exposure  

Even though Charlie was a bricklayer, he mucked in and did whatever job was required. He went there straight from school and did whatever was asked of him. As part of his job, he recalled regularly handling and cutting flat asbestos sheets and corrugated asbestos roofing sheets, drilling and fixing the same. He also worked in the vicinity whilst asbestos was being sprayed onto the buildings. He recalled stripping old asbestos lagging from boilers and associated pipework, demolishing buildings that contained asbestos and also carrying asbestos sheets. 

Diagnosis  

I obtained a medical report on Charlie’s condition. Our medical expert estimated that by the autumn of 2013, Charlie had a 20% respiratory disability on account of fibrosis. Initially the treating doctors had thought that Charlie was suffering from fibrosis and although he had asbestos exposure, they didn’t think there was enough asbestos exposure for them to attribute the fibrosis to asbestosis. Charlie also had pleural plaques, scarring on the lungs due to prior asbestos exposure. Whilst the presence of pleural plaques is not a sufficient basis upon which to attribute the lung fibrosis to asbestosis because pleural plaques can develop after a dose of asbestos much less than that necessary to cause pulmonary fibrosis, the presence of pleural plaques should prompt detailed enquiry into occupational history for the purpose of assessing the likely dose of asbestos received. Our expert thought that it was remarkable that all the radiologists and clinicians who commented on the chest CT scans did not mention the presence of pleural plaques which of course is a characteristic of asbestos exposure and therefore an important clue to Charlie having sustained significant occupational exposure to asbestos. 

Supportive evidence  

I therefore set about obtaining supportive witness statements from former colleagues who also worked at Keenan and Yates Limited in order to be satisfied that the level of asbestos exposure that Charlie sustained was sufficient to cause asbestosis. I also obtained a preliminary report from an engineer that confirmed that Charlie’s exposure to asbestos was well in excess of the threshold required for asbestosis. 

Our engineer was of the opinion that Charlie’s asbestos exposure was substantial and fulfilled the “Helsinki Criteria”. 

The claim was issued at the High Court and the defendants produced their Defence indicating their intention to defend the claim.

Defendant’s evidence

Keenan and Yates Limited had been dissolved many years previously.  However, I was able to trace the employer’s liability insurers for the entire period of Charlie’s employment. Keenan and Yates Limited had been restored to the Register so that proceedings could be issued against them and the claim would be met by the insurers of the company.

However, Keenan and Yates Limited produced statements from former directors of the company which refuted the level of asbestos exposure that Charlie experienced during his time at Keenan and Yates Limited. 

The case was proceeding to trial with one offer put to the defendant to settle the claim on a full and final settlement basis (this was Charlie’s wish). 

The defendant put forward an offer to settle the claim in June which Charlie decided to accept. The case was complex and fairly protracted but Charlie is delighted that he has been compensated for his contraction of asbestosis and that the insurance was in place in order to meet the claim for a job that he did on leaving school which ultimately has contributed to symptoms of breathlessness and his deteriorating health. 

If you or a member of your family has been exposed to asbestos at work then get in contact with our expert clams lawyers on 0800 884 0718 or email advice@industrialdisease lawyers.co.uk.

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Laura Magson, Asbestos Claims Lawyer, Boyes Turner Laura Magson Senior Associate - Solicitor

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