Coal Board Mesothelioma Claim Case Summary - Thompson & Co Solicitors

Mesothelioma Claim Case Summary

We acted for Mr W to pursue a claim for asbestos related mesothelioma against his former employers.

He had worked for the National Coal Board / British Coal Estates Department carrying out repairs to properties owned by the NCB / British Coal. The Government  (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) had taken over the liabilities of British Coal.

Mr W left school at the age of 14 and went straight to work at a Colliery in County Durham.  He was employed initially as an apprentice joiner and then as a qualified joiner in the property repair department.

His job involved carrying out repairs and maintenance and refurbishments to Colliery houses in the Durham area. This could be anything to do with joinery including fitting and repairing doors and window frames.  It also included repairing gutters and down-comers on the houses. He was be provided with asbestos guttering from the Colliery Stores which he used to replace guttering. He had to cut lengths of asbestos guttering to size using a hack saw. Cutting the asbestos guttering caused a lot of asbestos dust to be released into the air which he would inhale. As he cut the asbestos guttering the asbestos dust would get on his clothes.

He was also involved in renovating Colliery houses. He used cut asbestos plasterboard which he fixed to wooden frames using nails to create partition walls.

He used galvanized nails to fix the boards in place.

As he was working in the houses other trades employed by the Colliery would be removing the old heating systems and replacing them with new cylinder boilers in the cupboards upstairs. There was asbestos lagging on the old heating systems that were removed.

We obtained evidence of Mr W’s work history from the Inland Revenue and took statements from him, his family and former workmates.

We arranged a medical report confirming the diagnosis of Mesothelioma.

It was important to progress matters as quickly as possible due to Mr W’s short life expectancy and we therefore issued Court Proceedings were issued in the Royal Courts of Justice. Sadly, however Mr W died shortly after starting court proceedings. We continued to pursue the claim on behalf of his widow.

After serving the Court Proceedings on the Government it denied liability indicating that Mrs W had to prove exposure to asbestos and that British Coal had the requisite knowledge to be held liable for Mr W’s Mesothelioma as well as the extent of injury sustained by Mr W.

We requested that the Court hold an early hearing at which the Government had to prove it had reasonable prospects of successfully Defending the claim.

The Government made an offer of ÂŁ50,000 which we advised Mrs W to reject.

At the show cause hearing the Judge found that the Government had no real prospects of successfully defending the case and entered Judgment for an amount to be decided at an assessment of damages hearing. It was ordered that the Defendant was to make an interim payment to Mrs W of ÂŁ50,000.

Following further negotiations with the Government’s representatives we were able to settle Mrs W’s claim in the sum of ÂŁ110,000.