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Asbestos claimant receives six figure settlement plus cover for future medical expenses following mesothelioma diagnosis

​A man who was exposed to asbestos for just two days while working for the London Borough of Barnet in the 1960s has received compensation following his diagnosis with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

Posted on 17 August 2018

In the late 1960s Mr R spent his summer vacation working in Friern Park in the London Borough of Barnet as a general labourer.  As part of his job he was required to help dismantle a boiler that heated the park’s greenhouse.
Mr R was given a sledge hammer and told to smash the boiler up, including its asbestos lagging.  Over the two days that followed, Mr R was exposed to asbestos as the asbestos dust and fibres from the lagging filled the small, unventilated boiler room in which he was working.  He was given no protective clothing or respiratory equipment and no warnings about the dangers of asbestos which were well known to his employer at that time.
Almost 50 years later, at the age of 68, Mr R was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, the main cause of which is asbestos exposure.  He instructed Leigh Day shortly after his diagnosis. 
His former employer was notified of Mr R’s diagnosis and, following negotiations, the Defendant agreed that liability was not disputed.  
Following his diagnosis, Mr R researched the treatment options available and expressed an interest in immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy for mesothelioma is still considered an experimental treatment.  It is currently not available on the NHS except as part of a clinical trial and the costs of private treatment can be substantial.  Immunotherapy is not suitable for all mesothelioma patients as the response is uncertain and the side effects can be severe.  It is also not possible to determine how many immunotherapy cycles a patient may complete as this is dependent upon their response. 
During the course of his claim Mr R was accepted as a participant on an immunotherapy clinical trial and so began to receive immunotherapy at no cost.  There could be no assurance however that he would continue to be a suitable candidate, leaving open the possibility of significant medical costs in the future should his participation on the trial end.  
Expert oncology evidence was obtained which supported a claim for the costs of potential future treatment and a settlement was negotiated that included, not only a six figure lump sum, but also an agreement (by way of a Court Order) that his former employer will cover the costs of any future treatment recommended by Mr R’s treating consultant including all future immunotherapy treatment once participation in the clinical trial ends and any other future oncology treatment not available on the NHS.

Vijay Ganapathy, a partner in the industrial disease team at Leigh Day said:
“I am really pleased that this settlement has been achieved for Mr R.  Mr R made it clear early on how important it was to him that funds would be available should he need to pay for medical treatment in the future.  Developments in the field are happening at a faster rate than ever before and there is no way of knowing what treatment might be available a year from now.  The settlement agreement gives Mr R the assurance that if his participation in the clinical trial ends, his former employer will cover the cost of alternative treatment, whether that is immunotherapy or some, as yet, unknown treatment.”

Asbestos and industrial related diseases

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