Nigel Gadd, now aged 53, worked in the woodworm and dry rot industry from age 16 in 1979 to 1993 when he became self-employed. His job included removing or demolishing the ceiling to undertake timber treatment and then making good the ceiling afterwards. The ceilings commonly were finished with "Artex" which contains asbestos. Demolishing the ceiling released dust into the air. Finishing the ceiling afterwards involved sanding down the ceiling so that a smooth finish can be applied. This too created dust.
Mr Gadd developed mesothelioma in 2015. He was referred to Andrew Morgan by nursing staff at his hospital. Andrew was able to identify three employers but these companies raised difficulties with the claim: one of the employers was insolvent; not all insurers could be traced; one of the companies said Mr Gadd worked on a truly self-employed basis as an independent contractor; all the companies said that Mr Gadd was skilled so that he contributed to the exposure by his own negligence so any award should be reduced.
Andrew knew too that such claims are difficult to prove because the asbestos content of Artex is very low to such an extent that it is difficult to prove breach of the relevant standard "TDN13". The later standard "EH10" is more helpful but the likelihood of exposure decreases as time passes, and expert engineering evidence would be needed at trial. The waiting time for obtaining such a report is about 6 to 9 months at present, time that Mr Gadd could not afford.
Andrew arranged for a barrister to give Mr Gadd advice in conference at his home. The barrister took account of the full value of the claim, the real risk of losing and the risk of "contributory negligence". He advised settling at £175,000 or any better figure.
Andrew entered into negotiations with the employers and was able to reach agreement with two of the three employers to pay £203,583, more than 15% above the barrister's target settlement figure.
Cases arising out of Artex exposure are rare and notoriously difficult to prove
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