20 September 2020 | Case Study | Article by Lauren Bull

Case Study: Asbestosis case settled despite blue water shipping argument

Mr G contacted Hugh James following his diagnosis with asbestosis in November 2018. He had worked at the HM Dockyard in Plymouth in the 1950s, directly for the dockyard. Most of Mr G’s exposure came from him working full time in the engine rooms of ships where he would operate the machinery. Mr G worked closely 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 at 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.

Lauren Bull, Solicitor in the Specialist Asbestos team at Hugh James, said:

This was a challenging case as the claimant was exposed to asbestos with a few different companies, all of whom raised arguments as to why they weren't responsible I persevered and presented arguments as to why they were liable and eventually they all agreed to contribute towards settlement. I know Mr G was really pleased, and I was glad to secure some compensation for him.

Client, Mr G, said:

From the first contact and throughout the processing of my asbestos claim, I found the staff very helpful, lucid, clear and considerate. The communication was prompt and precise. Hugh James presented my case in a legible way. I would highly recommend them.


Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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