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Case Study

More than £900,000 compensation in UK and US claim for ex-Merchant Navy worker

Mr D was born in 1949. Upon leaving school aged 16, he began working for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, (RFA) part of the Ministry of Defence, as a civilian engineer Officer Cadet. After two years of training, he went to sea for 18 months, where he worked on two ships between 1968 and 1969 before returning to the UK to further his studies. Once he qualified, he continued his career as a civilian Marine Engineer with the RFA.

Over the next few years, he progressed from a junior engineer through to a first engineer in about 1991. Throughout his career, Mr D spent a considerable amount of time working on old ships around the world. He recalled the newest ship he worked on was built in 1966, the year he began his career at the RFA.

Mr D recalled how he and his colleagues, unaware of the dangers of asbestos, would throw 'snowballs of asbestos' at each other in the early 1970's. He also detailed times when high pressure pipes would blow off suddenly and when this happened, he would need to rip off any old asbestos lagging that had not been blown off already, in order to access and repair the joint and then fix the lagging back on so the ship could continue its journey. Over the course of his career, he estimates having to do this over a thousand times.

In April 2015, Mr D and his wife travelled to their holiday home in France. On their return Mr D began to feel breathless and could not walk up the stairs. His wife immediately took him to their local Accident and Emergency Centre where a prompt chest x-ray revealed his right lung was completely filled with fluid. He had over 5 litres of fluid drained from his lung in separate procedures and a biopsy was taken during the second procedure. A week later, Mr D was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mr D, having lost a few friends to asbestos related diseases, suspected that asbestos was the cause of his illness. He began chemotherapy a few weeks later. Sadly, Mr D died in September 2015, leaving behind a wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.

Andrew Morgan was instructed during Mr D's lifetime and met him to take a full detailed statement. He secured an admission of liability during Mr D's lifetime and obtained an interim payment of £50,000 for Mr D's widow.

A large part of Andrews's valuation of the claim consisted of a financial dependency claim for Mrs D, who was financially dependent on her late husband's pension income. The RFA did not contest this element of the claim and a settlement figure of £326,323 was agreed. This case settled within 12 months of its inception.

The US Asbestos Claim

Mr D regularly put into port in the USA. Some of the machinery he monitored was US-manufactured and was designed to be insulated with asbestos materials. Andrew liaised closely with US attorney Brendan Tully and introduced Brendan to Mr D.

This was the first case that Brendan Tully brought in the USA for UK clients in this way. He interviewed Mr D's colleagues and arranged for them to attend trial in Florida to give evidence, alongside Mrs D.

The US trial was long-delayed because of COVID but Mrs D eventually succeeded at trial and was awarded a substantial sum. The Defendants appealed. She was able to settle the appeal by accepting a figure of £962,037 (inclusive of costs).

Andrew was the first UK solicitor to introduce a UK claim to Brendan. Having already obtained £326,323 inside a year, this introduction led to Mrs D recovering just over £900,000. Although US claims can take much longer than UK claims, they are well worth pursuing and it can be possible to obtain compensation in the UK in the meantime.

Contact us

For further information about mesothelioma compensation claims, please call Andrew Morgan on 0330 460 6737 or email andrew.morgan@fieldfisher.com.

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