Teacher’s case of exposure to asbestos in a Portakabin settles within a year | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Teacher’s case of exposure to asbestos in a Portakabin settles within a year

Crucial information, including a copy of a letter to ILEA in 1986, helps settle teacher’s claim that she was exposed to Amosite in the damaged walls of a temporary classroom.

In 1985, Ms S was employed by ILEA and began work in a pre-fab classroom in the playground. Her job involved pinning work on the walls and removing it using scissors and similar tools. As she removed the pins and staples, she held them in her hand.

Often, the protective paint layer on the walls was broken, revealing the fabric beneath. There were also perforations through the interior walls into the cavity between the interior and exterior walls. There was also a hole in the wall the size of a tennis ball.

One day, the newly appointed NUT (National Union of Teachers) representative visited the classroom, noticed the damage and raised the alarm.

ILEA then undertook an asbestos survey, which confirmed the presence of Amosite (brown asbestos). The pre-fab was out of bounds while remedial work was performed. On NUT advice, Ms S wrote to ILEA to complain that she had been exposed to Amosite asbestos and kept a copy of the letter.

Ms S rose to senior teaching positions in London but had to stop work because of ill health in February 2020. Her health deteriorated and she was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2020.

Ms S contacted HASAG, which helped her with state benefit applications and gave her a list of solicitors expert in mesothelioma claims.

Ms S saw that Andrew previously acted for teacher Elizabeth Beresford, who developed mesothelioma in similar circumstances. She asked Andrew to help her with a claim.

Ms S gave Andrew a very clear history of exposure to asbestos while working in the pre-fab. Because of lockdown, Andrew discussed her case with her via video meetings. Crucially, Ms S still had a copy of the letter to ILEA in 1986 and was also still in touch with the NUT representative, who confirmed what had happened.

Because the Defendant would likely say that the asbestos dose was very small when compared to the lifetime dose of “background” exposure Ms S would have suffered in any case, Andrew thought the outcome at trial would be uncertain. He instead invited the other side to an early joint settlement meeting before issuing proceedings.

Because Ms S had left ILEA before 1 April 1990, the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) defended the claim. They had experience of similar claims and accepted that the case was complex enough to warrant an early settlement meeting. Since Ms S had intended to work till age 70, Andrew was able to prepare an appropriate Schedule of Loss.

Andrew instructed barrister Michael Rawlinson QC to represent Ms S at a settlement meeting in November 2021. The legal team quickly negotiated settlement close to the full liability value of the claim, leading Ms S to say: "You and Mike were completely accurate in your predictions and both played a blinder in reaching final settlement."

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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