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Settlement secured for doctor exposed to asbestos during hospital training in Coventry

A mesothelioma claim has been successfully settled for a young doctor who was exposed to asbestos while undertaking training and practising as a junior doctor at Walsgrave Hospital in the Midlands during the late 1990s/early 2000.

Dr Kate Richmond with her husband Brett

28 April 2020

Dr Kate Richmond (aged 44) who now lives outside Melbourne, Australia, developed stomach pain in early 2018.  Following investigations she was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma (which affects the lining of the stomach).  Mesothelioma is only known to be caused by asbestos.

Dr Richmond instructed Leigh Day specialist asbestos lawyer Daniel Easton, who worked closely with an experienced Australian lawyer to progress a claim for Dr Richmond.

Given the passage of time, they had to undertake extensive investigations to locate evidence about asbestos at the hospital and thanks to media attention into the case, a number of witnesses came forward offering evidence about maintenance work at the hospital which may have caused medical practitioners and patients to be exposed to asbestos. 

After forcing the defendant to provide a crucial documents through a successful Court application, the legal team were able to confirm the presence of asbestos in the hospital buildings, notably the use of asbestos ceiling tiles.  Witnesses confirmed the ceiling tiles being moved and damaged, thereby releasing deadly asbestos fibres into the atmosphere.

The Dr Richmond's legal team managed to secure a judgment at a contested court hearing which ruled that the hospital negligently exposed her to asbestos.  
They then worked with multiple experts to determine the appropriate damages, considering all aspects of Dr Richmond’s life that had been affected by her illness, including additional assistance she needed, private oncology treatment, adaptations to her home and psychological support.  They used accountancy evidence to prove what her future income would have been working as a GP in Australia.

The case settled just one day before trial and damages were paid in Australian dollars, to avoid complications with exchange rates.  Despite suggestions from the defendant that it was not possible to run a trial during that the Covid-19 lockdown, Leigh Day put in place urgent arrangements to run the trial remotely using video conferencing and the digital court documents.

The damages settlement secures Dr Richmond's entitlement to continue claiming for future medical treatment following the end of her case.

Dr Richmond said:

“I am delighted by what Daniel Easton and his team have achieved.”

She told them: “Your professionalism, kindness and attention to detail are second to none. I feel so very lucky to have had you to manage my case. From the beginning your quiet confidence calmed my nerves, this in itself was invaluable. The financial settlement is a real tribute to your tenacity and negotiating skills. 

“The security afforded by the settlement will allow me to plan for the future for my husband and young children. Knowing future health treatment costs will be covered too is a huge weight off my mind. Please know that I am hugely grateful to you. You have made an enormous difference to me and my family.” 

Partner Daniel Easton, who ran the case, commented:

“It is rare for somebody as young as Dr Richmond to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, but this case (and sadly many others like it) prove that this terrible disease is not just something which affects the stereotype of older men.  
“The more we can do to highlight the dangers of asbestos, and prevent future generations being affected, the better.
“I am pleased we managed to prove Kate’s case and secure the right settlement for her, but it would be far better if these cases never arose at all.”

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