Shaheen Mosquera acted on behalf of John Bland who was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer of mesothelioma in October 2014 at the age of 76. He first developed problems with breathing, chest pain and a heavy cold in December 2013 and he was diagnosed with a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics. John had a chest x-ray in January 2014 which was clear but his chest infection did not resolve and he continued to have pain in the left side of his chest when he coughed. By August 2014 he was still suffering from a persistent cough and in September 2014 John was referred to the local hospital for further investigations. At that time a chest x-ray showed fluid on the left lung and the consultant referred John for a biopsy and in October 2014 he was given the results of the biopsy.
Prior to the diagnosis of mesothelioma John was very fit and healthy because he had a HGV driving license and had to undergo stringent annual medicals. He was also a trained firefighter and a licensed Civil Aviation Authority instructor. John enjoyed going for regular walks to the seafront and enjoyed looking at the boats. He also enjoyed travelling to Cyprus to visit his friend. John was volunteering once a week as a Civil Aviation Authority instructor for the Voluntary Emergency Service and he was also instructing firefighters at the Full Sutton airfield in York. He taught the firefighters aviation firefighting and aircraft rescue techniques.
John was exposed to asbestos from 1954 to 1959 when he worked as an apprentice marine engine fitter for Humber St Andrew's Engineering Company Ltd and was based at St Andrew's Dock in Hull. During the course of his apprenticeship, he worked on the vessels and came into contact with asbestos when replacing brake linings on steam winches, working in engine rooms and coming into contact with asbestos insulation and working in the vicinity of laggers who were lagging the pipe work. John was exposed to asbestos from the age of 15 until he finished his apprenticeship in 1959
John contacted Fieldfisher solicitors in March 2015 and Shaheen arranged to visit John at home the same week.
It was clear from John's evidence that he had been exposed to significant quantities of asbestos with Humber St Andrew's Engineering Company but the case was not straightforward because even though the company was active it was a dormant company. The company's insurance broker advised that they had not been able to trace the identity of the employer's liability insurer.
Shaheen had to investigate the company's financial position in order to establish whether the company had enough assets to meet the claim and therefore decided to also submit a claim to the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme which is a government Scheme of last resort for individuals who have been exposed to asbestos but are not able to trace an insurer.
Shaheen was then advised that John's former employer's parent company had instructed solicitors and she therefore pressed the solicitors about the parent company and whether it had acquired the liabilities of Humber St Andrew's Engineering Company. John's case was urgent because he did not have any dependants and therefore it was very important that the case was settled as soon as possible. Eventually, in mid-September 2015 the solicitors confirmed that the parent company would meet any claims and therefore court proceedings were commenced in October 2015. Judgment for liability was entered in John's favour on 11 November 2015 and John accepted a six figure settlement offer on 14 December 2015.
John went on to say:
"Thank you for a very successful outcome of my case, which was entirely due to the high professional standards in which it was handled".
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