Dushal Mehta, Senior Associate at Fieldfisher, was instructed to pursue a claim by Mrs T following her diagnosis with mesothelioma.
Mrs T was born on 12 September 1937 and was married to her husband, Maurice, and he was born on 29 December 1933. Mrs T was given the devastating news that she was suffering from mesothelioma at Harefield Hospital and at the time she was not aware of having ever been exposed to asbestos. She was given details of solicitors to contact and she contacted Dushal Mehta of Fieldfisher.
Initially, Mrs T linked her diagnosis to the time that she had worked in an office at a foundry. However, after having considered her family life in more detail, she recalled washing her husband's overalls when he was working as a Controls and Testing Engineer for Hawker Siddeley in the late 1970s.
Mr T had worked on board naval ships installing control systems on new-build ships. He regularly worked in control and engine rooms of the ships and recalled the environment being dusty and brushing up against insulation which he thought was asbestos. He worked in various shipyards around the country and would return home after having spent a few weeks and sometimes months away. When he returned home, his wife would wash his overalls. She would shake out the overalls to remove as much dust as possible before washing the overalls.
Dushal pursued Hawker Siddeley for damages. The claim was pursued on the basis that by October 1965 and, as a result of an article in The Sunday Times, employers were aware that there was a risk to wives and family members from "take-home exposure".
The difficulty in Mrs T's case was identifying the correct identity of Mr T's employer at the time that he was exposed and also establishing that asbestos was used as an insulating material on board the naval ships which were being built at the time. This was because the dangers of asbestos should have been well known by them.
Mr T's work record from HM Revenue & Customs raised significant doubt as to the correct identity of the employer that exposed him and, in turn, his wife to asbestos. The HMRC employment record was incorrect in that it recorded an employer that Mr T did not believe to be his employer at the time. The uncertainty regarding the correct employer raised significant doubts as to whether Mr T's evidence could be relied upon. With the passage of time, it was extremely difficult for him to remember precisely who employed him at the time that he was exposed to asbestos and precisely how long he was exposed to asbestos.
It was also suggested by the Defendants that the naval vessels that were being constructed in the late 1970s would not have used asbestos as an insulating material.
Dushal was able to firstly establish the correct identity of the employer that would have exposed Mr T to asbestos and, secondly, secure evidence that the vessels that were being built for the Royal Navy continued to use asbestos as an insulating material in the ships that were being built in the late 1970s despite the dangers of asbestos being well known by that time. Mr T was able to provide Dushal with details of witnesses that would be able to provide supportive witness evidence and their evidence was beneficial to the case.
Dushal was able to secure a full value settlement for Mrs T in the sum of £160,000.00 shortly before the High Court trial was listed to take place.
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