26 November 2020 | Comment | Article by Lauren Bull
Asbestosis case settled despite Blue Water Shipping argument
Mr G contacted Hugh James following his diagnosis with asbestosis in November 2018.
Mr G worked at the HM Dockyard in Plymouth in the 1950s, directly for the dockyard. Most of Mr G’s exposure came from his working full time in the engine rooms of ships where he would operate the machinery. Mr G would work close to asbestos lagged pipework and machinery in these engine rooms. He also worked for Union Castle Mail Steamship Company in a similar role.
From 1960 until 1990, Mr G worked for the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Mr G’s role involved maintenance of laboratories with radioactive materials, where he would occasionally cut up Sindanyo boards containing asbestos. Collectively, this exposure satisfied Hugh James that Mr G met the Helsinki Criteria and had been put risk of developing an asbestos-related condition.
The representative for Union Castle Mail Steamship Company raised a Blue Water Shipping argument and said that the first official warning to ship owners concerning asbestos risks was 1977 in the Notice to Mariners, and that the company would not have had any awareness of the risks of asbestos prior to then and therefore had no duty to protect Mr G.
Hugh James raised counter arguments in respect of this and ultimately the defendant agreed to contribute towards final settlement. Hugh James successfully obtained a settlement from all three defendants.
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