In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, an ex-motor mechanic from Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire has been awarded £135,000 in compensation after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, Retroperitoneal Fibrosis (RPF). It is understood to be the first time a victim of this asbestos related disease has won compensation for this condition.
Graham Mansfield, 67, worked as a motor mechanic for Trent Motor Traction Company Ltd, Speeds Motor Group Ltd and Evans Halshaw (Northern) Ltd between 1955 and 1977. He claimed that it was whilst working for these companies that he was exposed to the asbestos fibres in the dust from brake linings, which in turn caused his illness.
Mr Mansfield's doctor stated it was exposure to asbestos which caused Mr Mansfield's condition including the loss of function in his right kidney and damage to the lining of his lungs.
An expert in epidemiology - the study of the patterns, causes, and control of disease - reported on the potential link between asbestos exposure and RPF and concluded that it can be attributed to asbestos in cases where lifetime exposure exceeds 5 years. Agreed evidence in this case was that Mr Mansfield's cumulative occupational asbestos exposure was in excess of 16 years.
Following arguments from the solicitor representing the defendants, claiming that Mr Mansfield's symptoms were not asbestos-related, further investigation by an expert in renal medicine reported that, in the absence of exposure to other causal agents, such as particular drugs, a limited number of chronic infections and certain cancers, Mr Mansfield's RPF was caused by his exposure to asbestos.
It was also revealed in the investigations that Mr Mansfield's right kidney had been destroyed by the RPF and that he was in considerable pain due to the disease. Mr Mansfield also faces a significant risk of developing irreversible renal failure and the RPF may undergo a malignant transformation.
Mr Mansfield's life expectancy has been significantly reduced as a result of the RPF, yet the defendants have made no formal admission of liability.
The case was settled shortly before trial in February 2007, for a total figure of £135,000 from all three Defendant companies.
Mr Mansfield said: "I am very happy with the outcome. I believe it is my right to be compensated for a disease, which I developed through no fault of my own. I have had to deal with a disease which could prematurely end my life and I live with severe pain."
Industrial disease specialist
Denis OGorman, an industrial disease specialist at leading law firm Irwin Mitchell, who represented Mr Mansfield, said: "It now seems unmistakeable that Mr Mansfield's illness is solely down to the exposure to asbestos fibres he received between 1955 and 1977. Medical experts have concluded that this is the case and have even stated that this may cause Mr Mansfield's life to be ended prematurely. It seems only fair for the companies involved to admit liability and give Mr Mansfield the compensation which he deserves."
Adrian Budgen, a partner and Head of Asbestos Disease Litigation with Irwin Mitchell, explained: "As far as we are aware this is the first settlement of its kind and is therefore very significant.
"Retroperitoneal fibrosis is a disease characterised by the development of a thick, fibrotic mass that can block the ureters leading to kidney failure. It is a rare disease, affecting several hundred people in the UK.
"Because of its rarity, relatively few studies have investigated its causation. However, the balance of epidemiological evidence, although limited, clearly supports a causal role of asbestos in retroperitoneal fibrosis. Moreover, a causal link is biologically plausible, given that we know asbestos fibres can penetrate to the abdominal cavity in exposed workers to cause fibrosis, or asbestosis of the lungs."
Our expert asbestos solicitors will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved one has suffered due to an asbestos related illness. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.