Mr Peter Blackburn was exposed to asbestos in the course of his employment in the construction and demolition business in the 1960s. He became very ill during the course of 2012 and eventually passed away on 30 January 2013. During his illness he mentioned to one of his treating doctors that "in 1963 he worked for a company called Frank Velori during demolition work and he said that for a three to four week period he was involved in ripping out some underground boilers which were covered in asbestos".
After Peter passed away the Coroner ordered a post mortem which confirmed he had died from the asbestos disease of mesothelioma. The Coroner recorded a verdict of death by reason of industrial disease.
Peter left a widow, Susan, who contacted Andrew Morgan for advice about making a claim.
Susan told Andrew that during his lifetime Peter had not been diagnosed as suffering from an asbestos disease, though some suspicion had been raised. As a result Peter had not sought advice and had not made any statement. He had enjoyed a varied and interesting career and it was not obvious where Peter might have been exposed to the asbestos that caused his condition, except for this small entry in the medical records. However, Andrew assessed that there were some prospects of obtaining compensation because the entry in the records described exposure that would have been "substantial" and which would have been enough to have caused the disease.
Andrew undertook researches and established that there was a firm of demolition contractors that were well known in the 1960s going by the name of "Frank Valori Limited". They had been engaged in substantial demolition works over the years including, for instance, the demolition and removal of the famous arch in front of Euston Station in London.
From previous cases Andrew knew that demolition contractors often used a specialist line of insurance cover and so he wrote to various of these specialist insurers to ask if they provided cover for Frank Valori Limited. Happily, Builders Accident Insurance confirmed that they provided cover for this company during the relevant period so that Andrew was able to pursue a claim. He obtained a supportive medical report. There were no witnesses who could say anything more about the circumstances of Peter's exposure to asbestos. In light of this Builders Accident eventually denied liability and refused to make any compensation payment.
Andrew obtained Peter's employment history schedule from HM Revenue & Customs. This did not mention "Frank Valori Limited". On its own this did not cause any great difficulty because many workers in the construction and demolition business in the 1960s and 1970s worked on a self employed basis "for tax purposes", but were clearly "employees" as far as compensation claims are concerned.
Faced with this denial Andrew asked Susan if there was any other evidence about Peter's exposure, she was able to provide a number of photographs of Peter at work in those days. One picture showed Peter driving a van marked "Valori Plant & Haulage Division Limited", potentially another employer and Andrew asked Builders Accident if they insured this company as well as Frank Valori Limited. Builders Accident said that they did not.
Andrew was unable to identify any insurer for this new company and advised Susan to make a claim to the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme ("DMPS") on the basis that the evidence showed that Peter was employed by "Valori Plant & Haulage Division Limited" and no insurer had been traced.
The DMPS accepted the application and made a payment of £122,658 less State benefits. Andrew limited his fees to the DMPS "tariff" fees so that Susan received a gross amount of £115,658.
Susan went on to say:
"I just wanted to thank you for pursuing Peter's awful case. I really appreciate your care and consideration during this most traumatic of times".
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