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Compensation Awarded After Asbestos Insurers Traced

Ian Bailey, an asbestos-related disease specialist from Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, has acted for an ex-painter in an unusual claim for compensation following his client’s development of malignant mesothelioma.

Our client, Mr Eddie Rhodes, alleged that he was exposed to asbestos whilst employed by Fred Bean Limited as an industrial painter in the late 1960s and 1970s. The company, which had long since been dissolved and removed from the Register of Companies, couldn’t be traced and as a result had no assets.

The success of any claim therefore rested upon the ability to trace insurers for the company through the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO), a body set up by the insurance industry to help trace the insurers of dissolved companies. Regrettably, Ian made two applications but both of them were unsuccessful, seemingly leaving him without any legal remedy for justice.

Tracking Down The Insurers

However, after speaking with Ian, Mr Rhodes did recall suffering an injury at work in the mid 1970s when he had fallen from a ladder and fractured his wrist. He had pursued a claim against the company directly and remembered receiving a cheque in settlement of his claim from Cornhill Insurance via their Leeds office.

This was denied by Cornhill Insurance, who alleged that Mr Rhodes, who had by this stage died, had made a mistake. They maintained that they had failed to respond to the ELTO request because there was no evidence that they had ever insured Fred Bean Limited. Cornhill claimed that the extensive insurance records which had been searched had failed to show any match for Fred Bean Limited.

Thankfully, Ian didn’t give up, tracing witnesses who had performed administrative duties for Fred Bean Limited and who had some recollection of the insurance arrangements. Unfortunately, Cornhill continued to deny this and prepared statements refuting insurance cover.

Settlement Awarded

Eventually, despite there being no physical evidence or documentary proof of the existence of a policy, Cornhill consented to judgment shortly before a trial on the preliminary issue of insurance cover. Mr Rhodes’ widow has since been awarded a substantial settlement.

Ian said: "Claims which rely upon proving insurance cover with a particular insurer are unusual and complex, but also rely on very small pieces of evidence, in this case from Mr Rhodes himself. Ultimately, our persistence and the determination of my client to see that justice was done, ensured that the claim succeeded.

"However, there will be many cases where insurers are able to get away with not meeting full and proper compensation for dying victims simply on account of being incapable of finding old records.

"Whilst I am pleased that this case was resolved successfully, there are many cases where the vital piece of evidence is missing and insurers can avoid payment, all at the expense of the victim."

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.

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