Compensation for family of man who died from mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure at the Fawley refinery in 1960's

A FOCIS member law firm were instructed by a man who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2007. 

Sadly, he passed away four months later aged 60 and the claim was taken over by his wife, who along with her adult son had been completely financially dependent on him. 

In the 1960's, he had worked as a lagger's mate and an apprentice engineer at the Fawley Refinery owned by Esso. During that period he was exposed to asbestos but suffered no other exposure during his life.

Esso Petroleum Co Ltd admitted liability but the amount of compensation was disputed and the case progressed to an assessment of damages at the Royal Courts of Justice. The main arguments between the Claimant and Defendant were in respect of the following:-

What age would the claimant have retired?

Before he became unwell, he worked as a Project Engineer in Saudi Arabia for an Oil Company. He had lived there with his wife for 20 years until their son left English boarding school in 2005, when she returned to the United Kingdom.

He stayed in Saudi Arabia and continued to support their son financially, including funding his flat, transport and living expenses. He also paid for his wife's living expenses.

His wife had never worked and had not intended to ever do so. During the year he passed away he had earned £54,079 per annum and he had been provided with free accommodation, paid expenses and three free flights home each year.

His employer gave written evidence that whilst the retirement age in Saudi Arabia was 60, extensions could be granted for 1 - 2 year terms thereafter. An ex-employee of the Saudi Oil Company attended the trial and gave evidence that employment beyond 60 was not unusual.  It was argued on behalf of his wife that that he would have worked to 65 or perhaps longer.  However, that was disputed by Esso.

The Court was content that he would have worked until age 65.

His son's dependency

His son was aged 22 but was training as a sound engineer and not being paid and it was unclear when we would start to be paid.

The Court ruled that a 25% self spend deduction should be applied because nowadays parents supported children in training much longer than they did in the past. Esso had argued for a 34% deduction on the basis that by the age of 22, his son should have been working.

Was an award for loss of a husband's love and affection appropriate in addition to the bereavement award?

The Court awarded £2,000 in respect of this, in addition to the statutory bereavement award of £10,000. It also awarded £16,500 for the DIY and maintenance that he would have carried out in the future and the fact that having a man at home was more convenient that calling a tradesman.

The claim settled for a total of £316,901.


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