New Court of Appeal mesothelioma case - exorcising an asbestos ghost but resurrecting an old spirit
Mesothelioma asbestos compensation BP oil refinery worker
Tragically, Mike from Rochester, Medway, Kent was diagnosed at Medway Hospital with fatal sarcomatoid mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. He instructed us within days of his diagnosis to seek compensation for mesothelioma to ensure his family were provided for after him. He had little recollection of his asbestos exposure but suspected this happened when working in the boiler house of BP’s oil refinery on the Isle of Grain near the Medway Towns, Kent, between 1978 and 1983.
We met Mike and his lovely wife Pauline for a free consultation at their home in Wainscott, Rochester, Kent. We entered into a no win no fee agreement with Mike so that financial risk from the claim was one thing he and Pauline would not need to worry about.
We obtained Mike’s full account of his 50 year working history and possible contact with asbestos leading to mesothelioma. We identified his most likely source of asbestos exposure as a boiler house operative in BP’s oil refinery on the Isle of Grain, Medway, Kent. However, Mike’s recollection was vague and he had not kept in contact with old work mates from the BP oil refinery. We researched to find supporting evidence to confirm his likely asbestos exposure at the BP Kent oil refinery.
This led us to two supporting witnesses from a previous asbestos disease claim against the BP oil refinery. They confirmed that during Mike’s time in the oil refinery’s boiler house its pipes were heavily lagged with asbestos maintained by the lagging company, Hallsens. They frequently stripped out old asbestos lagging and made up new lagging, creating a significant amount of asbestos dust inside the refinery’s boiler house against which BP took no precautions. Boiler house workers were therefore regularly exposed to asbestos.
We obtained full statements and four weeks after first instruction we sent a detailed letter of claim for compensation to BP Oil Kent Refinery Ltd. Knowing that tragically Mike would not have long to live, we promptly obtained medical records and a medical report from a consultant chest physician, confirming mesothelioma. We served the report and pressed for an admission and interim payment but frustratingly were met by silence. Sadly, Mike died from mesothelioma only 4 months after diagnosis..
Following the Inquest and funeral, when Pauline felt ready to begin litigation, we met her at home with her daughter and obtained instructions to continue the mesothelioma compensation claim against BP Kent Oil refinery Ltd. This included loss of services and income dependency. This was an unavoidably painful task for Pauline but sadly a necessary one which we dealt with as sympathetically as possible.
Updated records and medical report were obtained, confirming death through mesothelioma. We notified BP Oil Kent Refinery of the estate’s mesothelioma asbestos compensation claim, presenting a full supported schedule of loss with supporting evidence. Frustratingly we were again met with silence.
We therefore started High Court proceedings in July. BP Oil Kent Refinery served an ambiguous defence not admitting liability. At a hearing on 27 October the court accepted our argument that there was no reasonable defence to primary liability. They entered summary judgment against BP Kent Oil Refinery Ltd and ordered £50,000 interim compensation be paid. An assessment of damages hearing was fixed for 16 March.
BP insisted on getting a report from its own medical expert, who came to a rather lower figure than our expert for Mike’s life expectancy but for his mesothelioma. This could have reduced the dependency claim substantially. Their expert appeared to misinterpret parts of Mike’s medical history. We obtained detailed evidence from Pauline, her daughter Annette and neighbours to address this. Our medical expert stood by his opinion. An updated schedule was prepared and served. It was met by a counter schedule, taking issue over nearly all of the claims.
BP made an initial compensation offer of £140,000. On our advice Pauline rejected this and made an initial counter offer of £220,000. By three weeks before the hearing there was still no settlement. We therefore held a pre-trial conference with our trial barrister, Stephen, Pauline, her daughter Annette and our medical expert. The barrister advised compensation of £185,000 would be a reasonable outcome.
We were keen to get the best compensation we could for Pauline, recognising our tactical advantage because the defendant had left it so late to make a realistic offer. On our advice Pauline stood firm. Within two days of the conference we agreed compensation for Pauline’s asbestos mesothelioma claim against BP of £200,000, £15,000 above the figure our barrister had advised would be reasonable. As a mesothelioma client Pauline kept 100% of the compensation. Pauline’s acting lawyer Jeremy commented: “Of course no amount of money could bring back Mike, but I was really pleased to see that justice was done to honour his name and reflect what he’d suffered and see that Pauline was properly provided for.”
Pauline was “very satisfied” with all aspects of our service to her and Mick, which services she rated as “10/10”. She and her daughter thanked Jeremy “for all your help and advice it was really appreciated”.
This mesothelioma compensation claim was dealt with by Jeremy Horton, a Solicitor and Partner in the firm, specialising in mesothelioma and other asbestos compensation claims in Kent, Medway, Essex & beyond. Jeremy is passionate about helping asbestos disease victims and their families achieve fair compensation as quickly as possible. He is the only APIL Accredited Occupational and Asbestos Disease Specialist solicitor in Kent, Medway, Essex, Surrey or Sussex. Jeremy can be contacted on 01622 680415 or at JeremyHorton@brachers.co.uk.
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