Shaheen Mosquera acted on behalf of Dean who was referred to Fieldfisher by the Dagenham laggers' branch. 58-year-old Dean was diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease diffuse pleural thickening. His consultant at the Royal Brompton Hospital advised him to claim for compensation against his former employers, one of which was Kitsons, a company previously sued by laggers who developed asbestos disease.
Dean completed his apprenticeship at Kitsons in the 1970s and was sent to remove asbestos from sites including the Ford Research Centre in Dunton, Plantation House on Fenchurch Street, plus other power stations and schools.
Dean also removed blue asbestos flock from the Houses of Parliament for which he was provided with a respirator similar to equipment used by divers, but no formal training on how to properly fit it. Occasional problems with the air supply meant he had to quickly remove his mask and at other times, stubble on his face also meant it did not fit properly.
HSE guidance at the time was that exposure to asbestos dust should be reduced 'to the minimum that is reasonably practical'. Kistons could have done this by wetting the insulation before removal. Instead, Dean worked with clouds of dust released by the dry asbestos.
Court proceeding were served upon Dean's former employers in January 2018. Witness evidence from former managers at Kitsons stated that they had provided guidance that complied with health and safety, although no evidence was presented from the workers actually removing the asbestos. The Defendants also decided not to obtain engineering evidence.
Dean's engineering expert calculated that Kitsons were responsible for 80 per cent of Dean's exposure, with his other employer responsible for 20 per cent.
In March 2019, the second Defendant settled and agreed the value of their responsibility for Dean's disability. Kitsons continued to defend their portion of the claim until a week before trial, at which point they agreed to similar settlement terms those agreed with the second Defendant.
A representative from the Dagenham laggers' branch, who referred Dean's case to us, said that they were watching the case – the first of its kind - with interest because other people had also developed asbestos disease despite being provided with a respirator. "The success of Dean's case was considered a victory for other men who may have been exposed when stripping asbestos," he said.
Dean's case was similar to other cases we are seeing where full training regarding protection is in dispute.