Field Fisher Waterhouse victory in asbestos pleural plaques test case
Fieldfisher (FFW) today won £26,000 damages for a client who suffers from pleural plaques, an asbestos related disease which according to the Court of Appeal should not be compensated in English Law.
Ellis Hindson, 59, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire was exposed to substantial amounts of asbestos whilst working as an insulation engineer for The Thermal Insulating Company Limited between 1965 and 1976. He was given no protection from breathing in asbestos and no warning of its dangers.
In 2003 he was diagnosed with pleural plaques - permanent scarring of the lining of the lung caused by the asbestos fibres he inhaled. His asbestos exposure means that there is a 20% risk that he will suffer from fatal asbestos cancer at some point during the rest of his life.
Mr Hindson’s case was introduced into the “Pleural Plaques Test Litigation” along with nine other test cases, first heard in the High Court in December 2004. In these cases the Defendants argued that as pleural plaques do not give rise to respiratory disability or chest pain, damages should no longer be awarded for them in English law.
FFW had already obtained judgment in favour of Mr Hindson, so the question of whether his plaques was a serious enough injury to be awarded damages at all was not in issue, however the case was included in the test litigation to show the serious nature of this condition. In February 2005, Holland J. had awarded Mr Hindson £7,000 in the High Court, the same as Claimants with lower risks of asbestos cancer.Fieldfisherappealed.
In February 2006, the Court of Appeal upheld Mr Hindson’s appeal, whilst at the same time ruling in the other cases by a majority verdict of 2:1 that pleural plaques was not in fact an injury serious enough to warrant any award of damages. That is subject to an appeal to the House of Lords to be heard in June 2007.
Despite this, Mr Hindson’s case was referred back down to the High Court for rehearing on the amount of damages he should be awarded. It came before Mr Justice Wyn Williams between 29 and 31 January 2007. Mr Hindson was represented at court by Counsel Frank Burton QC.
In the judgment handed down today, Mr Hindson was awarded £26,000 damages to include compensation for the permanent scarring of the lining of his lungs, for the future risk that he may contract asbestos cancer and for his potential future loss of earnings.
Peter Williams says: “This award of £26,000 damages for pleural plaques mirrors awards that have been given by the English Courts for over twenty years, before the Court of Appeal decision in February 2006. This result recognises that those with permanent scarring on the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure, who face an uncertain future through no fault of their own, do have significant claims. I hope the House of Lords will agree to restore the right of others to claim for this disease when they hear the test cases in June 2007.”
For further press information please contact:
Louise Eckersley, PR Executive on +44 (0)20 7861 4120
 The case reference for the Court of Appeal pleural plaques test cases is Rothwell v The Chemical and Insulating Company Limited and Another (2006 EWCA Civ 27)
Notes to editors:
It is estimated that at least 20,000 people suffer from asbestos pleural plaques in the UK.
In 2006, the Personal Injury Practice atFieldfisherrecovered over £10 million in compensation for victims of asbestos-related diseases in 87 successful cases.
Since forming in 1983, the lawyers in FFW’s Personal Injury Practice have recovered over £106 million for claimants in 1800 asbestos-related claims.