Litigation Personal Injury 11/10/99

William Barker v Cape Plc (1999) Mayor's & City of London County Court (HH Judge Gibson) 24 September 1999

Claimant: Male, 20-29 years old at date of asbestos exposure; 65 years old at date of trial.

Incident: The claimant was employed by the defendant company as a lagger. He was exposed to asbestos between 1954 and 1963.

Injuries: Due to exposure to asbestos, the claimant developed symptomless plural plaques. At the date of trial his condition had not led to lung impairment, but there was a 2 per cent risk that he would develop diffuse pleural thickening, a 5 per cent risk of asbestosis and a 10 per cent risk of mesothelioma. The risk of lung cancer was 3 per cent and his life expectancy was reduced by two years. The claimant said the risk of his condition deteriorating had caused him anxiety. But the judge held that his version of the anxiety was exaggerated.

Award: £4,500 total provisional damages.

Claimant's counsel: Andrew Spink

Claimant's solicitor: Field Fisher Waterhouse

X v Y Health Authority (1999) June 199Claimant: Female, married, 33 years old at date of negligence; 46 years old at date of settlement.

Incident: In late 1985 the claimant began to suffer vaginal bleeding. An ultrasound scan was carried out which detected a benign ovarian mass. However, the doctors believed this was not the cause of the bleeding. The claimant saw a consultant who admitted her to hospital for the removal of the benign mass. He advised her that a dilation and curettage (D&C) would be undertaken at the same time to try to determine the cause of bleeding. In 1986 the mass was removed but the D&C was not carried out, although the claimant was told it had been and the results were normal. A year later she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The claimant began an action in May 1990 claiming that the D&C test results must have been wrongly interpreted. She obtained her medical records in 1992 which showed that the D&C had not been carried out. She served her statement of claim (which had been delayed pending discovery of the records) with the altered allegation that the defendant was negligent in failing to do the D&C. Liability admitted in this respect.

Injuries: The claimant underwent radiotherapy and high dose non-adjuvant chemotherapy. She suffered from the usual side effects in addition to: radiation colitis involving bowel problems; a tendency to suffer herpes and shingles; the loss of her ovaries resulting in early menopause; dyspareunia; chronic fatigue; and depression. The treatment was successful but the side effects meant the claimant was unable to continue her career.

Award: £750,000 total damages (out of court settlement)

Claimant's counsel: Andrew Spink

Claimant's solicitor: Clarke Willmott & Clarke