During the time that he worked for British Airways as a fitter, he was regularly exposed to asbestos. Mr Hardy changed brake linings on large vehicles about 2 or 3 times a day. The linings were made of asbestos and were about a quarter of an inch thick. His overalls would be covered in asbestos dust at the end of the working day. Mr Hardy had to drill holes in the brake linings and use an electric drill to attach the brake shoes. He was then required to file the linings to produce a leading edge. This generated large quantities of asbestos dust. Furthermore the workshop that he worked in was poorly ventilated and there was no dust extraction system.
After he retired, he enjoyed an active lifestyle with his wife in Devon. In June 2011, he developed a persistent cough and shortness of breath where he was advised that he had developed mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer. Mr Hardy had instructed Dushal Mehta to bring a claim for damages following his diagnosis. He was given a poor prognosis for the future and become housebound and incapacitated.
He was later admitted to his local hospice for palliative care. Unfortunately, a few days prior to the initial hearing Mr Hardy passed away on the 7th March 2012. The claim continued for the injuries he sustained and his wife’s loss.
We obtained supportive medical evidence which confirmed that Mr Hardy’s exposure at British Airways materially increased his risk of developing mesothelioma and this condition was likely to reduce his life expectancy by approximately 6 years.
British Airways did not dispute the diagnosis however, they obtained a report from an occupational hygienist to suggest that the dust produced by the worn brake linings would not have been harmful to Mr Hardy and he was not exposed to significant quantities of asbestos. They denied liability throughout and suggested that any asbestos exposure would have been below the occupational exposure limit applied by the Health & Safety Executive at the time. Therefore, although Mr Hardy may have been exposed whilst employed by British Airways, that exposure did not result in a foreseeable risk to his health according to the standards at the time.
Dushal instructed an expert consultant engineer, Mr John Raper and his evidence was that British Airways should have been aware of further guidance from the HSE which advised employers that asbestos exposure should be reduced ‘so far as was reasonably practicable’. They should have taken protective measures. It was also clear that Mr Hardy’s exposure to asbestos was above the limit set by the HSE.
Throughout the case, the Defendants also suggested that motor mechanics working on brake linings were not at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma as compared to other occupations. We were able to discredit the one sided and out of date studies they relied on.
British Airways denied liability throughout and the case was listed for a 3 day trial in the High Court of London in June 2013. Shortly before trial, British Airways conceded liability and settled the family’s claim for £160,000. This included a significant payment to the Hospice for the care provided to Mr Hardy.
After the case was settled, Jim (Mr Hardy's son) said:
"I would like to thank everyone concerned very much. A big thank you to Dushal Mehta he was very professional and very caring. We can’t thank him enough for all the hard work he did on behalf of my mum and all our family."
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