The Asbestos in Schools Group and the Joint Union Asbestos Committee have today issued a warning about the potential danger of asbestos fibres being inhaled when schools use WWII gas masks in lessons. It is known that these masks have been used in schools and have been handled and worn by staff and children.
We are delighted to announce that John Flanagan, Training & Information Officer, has been nominated for an award at this year’s Pride of Merseyside Awards hosted by the Liverpool Echo.
It is lovely to be recognised for the work we do in assisting victims of asbestos related diseases and their families. The winners will be announced on 22nd November and we are all keeping our fingers crossed in the office!
Celebration of 20th Anniversary of the Group 21st/22nd March 2013 was held at Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Town Hall.
The article about this fund-raising initiative is now on the IBAS website along with clips from 3 amazing ladies;
Wittenoom, the name strikes fear into the hearts of people in Western Australia (WA). For decades, the Wittenoom mine operated by the Australian multinational CSR (Colonial Sugar Refinery) and its subsidiary Australian Blue Asbestos produced a huge tonnage of crocidolite (blue) asbestos. It also produced Australia's greatest industrial catastrophe.
Despite knowing what exposure to blue asbestos could do to human beings, the mine owners allowed deadly practices and unsafe working conditions to persist in its mining and milling operations, and even in the town of Wittenoom itself, by allowing contaminated mine tailings to be used throughout the township in both public and private projects. From the early 1940s until the mine closed in 1966, more than 20,000 people have lived in Wittenoom, amongst which were 4000+ children. It is believed that 10% of Wittenoom's residents (2,000) have died of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. . . continue
Today, the Supreme Court decided to maintain the status quo so that insurers at the time exposure to asbestos occured are responsible for paying compensation. If the Court had agreed with the insurers's case that they only pay compensation when mesothelioma develops, thousands of mesothelioma sufferers would lose compensation because so many employers are no longer trading and there would be no insurer to pay compensation. This case has been dragged through the courts for 6 years and the judgment will at last end a long wait for justice. Sadly, thousands of mesothelioma sufferers have died during that time and never lived to see justice handed down.
To see the Forum press release please . . . click here
Six Peers have written to the Times to say that a Government Bill which makes asbestos victims pay up to 25% of their damages for pain and suffering is a "gross in justice". Eighteen Peers have already signed a letter to colleagues calling for support for amendments to prevent this injustice.
To see Times letter . . . click here
To see Forum Press Release . . . click here
Eternit asbestos cement company magnates, Swiss Stephan Schnidheiny and Belgian Baron De Cartier de Marchienne have been found guilty today in a Turin court of criminal charges of causing wilful and deliberate environmental disaster and wilful and deliberate failure to implement precautions in the work place.
To see Forum Press Release . . . Click here
For Eternit and The Great Asbestos Trial . . . Click here
A Supreme Court decision gives the Scottish Parliament the right to implement the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act 2009 so that pleural plaques sufferers in Scotland may now claim compensation.
People suffering from the asbestos-related lung condition pleural plaques will be able to seek compensation from 14th December 2011.
Click here to see the Asbestos Forum’s briefing paper calling for support for Lord Alton’s amendments. Lords speak up for asbestos victims in second reading of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Prosecution of Offenders Bill (LASPO Bill). Several members of the House of Lords spoke on behalf of asbestos victims in the second reading of the LASPO Bill. Their comments are highlighted in the text of the second reading click here
Victims meeting with their MP Steve Rotheram in the House of Commons. "See Comments from Jackson Questionnaire".
“My husband was an innocent mesothelioma sufferer who died as a consequence of his employers negligence, it is morally wrong for mesothelioma sufferers to have the additional burden of part of their legal costs” - Anon.
“It is immoral for claimants to have to pay any legal costs in mesothelioma cases. It is a very difficult time, I know my husband died and the payments of legal costs hanging over us would be horrendous” – JB
“Whatever will the Government do next to penalise innocent victims of this dreadful disease. It is 2 ½ years since my husband lost his battle with mesothelioma and my family and I are still trying to come to terms with our loss.” – BL
“It was a very difficult and upsetting time and it was a very worrying period going through the claim period which would have been even more worrying and stressful if these new legislations had been in place. Mesothelioma sufferers contracted this illness through gross neglect of the government and employers and claimants should not be given any added worry or stress after all the distress the illness entails” – Mrs. T & Family
“Since the government allowed such materials to be used in this county they should pay the penalties” – Anon.
“…The government should be doing more for these people whose lives are wrecked by this terrible disease. The people involved in these diseases should be made to pay and not take any money from the claimants. My Ben worked at Cammell Lairds when submarines were getting built so it took 42 years to become a cancer. It took my husband’s life and firms and government should be made to pay” – Mrs. H
“Having watched my husband die from this disease I think that mesothelioma sufferer should receive every penny of their compensation. This disease causes a slow, painful, undignified death – brought on generally by H&S neglect. Sufferers should receive free support and help to obtain all of their compensation” – Anon.
“It is noted that the MP recently jailed for the expenses scandal was able to claim legal aid. How is this right?” – DT
“Our compensation was won for us by the UCATT union but I appreciate the difficulty for other sufferers who weren’t in our position. It’s a disgraceful situation.” – Mrs. H.
“It seems that compensation amounts vary enormously – based on the “earning power” of the sufferer rather than the emotional impact on the bereaved. My understanding is that mesothelioma advances so quickly – the person themselves do not benefit apart from the knowledge that family will be provided for. Some claimants I think could afford to pay costs – however those who are unemployed or poorly paid (who receive far less in compensation) would find this harsh. I doubt means testing is a likely option I am opposed to legal costs being taken from compensation” – Anon.
“It is a big decision to make, even when you don’t have to pay legal fees. For ordinary people it is a scary this to do”. – Anon.
“As in many cases, only a small % of the claim was allowed, it wouldn’t stop me claiming but would diminish the amount in the end”. – Anon.
“My father died from mesothelioma 9 years ago. We were unable to claim compensation from any former employers of his as they were not large national governing bodies”. – Anon.
“The victim and family have suffered enough with this horrible disease. Watching your loved ones life drain away with pain and drugs knowing no cure and they can’t breathe. Depending on oxygen and then watching them die. The worry of paying for a funeral and bill and if you win having to pay the DHSS back. Without insurance policies it’s not worth the years of stress trying to get compensation. So please, please fight this unfair bill for all the unlucky people who are suffering now and in the future”. – Mrs. W
“Government changes are not fair to the sufferers and it is not good for future sufferers to claim compensation. Lets hope we can stop this”. – Mr. C
“Mesothelioma is a terrible disease and no one should have to endure suffering like it. If someone is responsible they should be held to account. To make the process of proceeding with a claim more difficult can only be wrong.” – PH
“To see the person you love dearly suffer and die with a terrible disease. You know only misery and loss. I am full of grief and sadness. You make a decision to try to see some justice. For the government to snatch what they can and make you pay for suffering – it is cruel and unfair” – JC
“It is already difficult to face the fight for compensation with the knowledge of no cure and having to prove how you were infected without this additional burden. As a relative of an asbestos sufferer and the loss of my mum – I am happy to support this in any way I can” – Mrs. L
“Not surprised by the changes the government are trying to make. Why when the majority who get mesothelioma are working people who pay taxes all their working life are still paying when they have passed away for something that was not their fault. With money saved is it going towards a cure? Also, will health and safety standards be adhered to in the future due to this Bill?” – RSA
My husband’s claim was dealt with very well – people should not be put under extra strain with possible legal costs. The situation you find yourself in is stressful enough” – MM
“The government does not care about elderly, disabled for disadvantaged people and only for trade union and your support we would probably still be working with asbestos products” – MJ
“I fully support what you are doing. My husband died on 4th September 2006 of mesothelioma” – Mrs. S
“I have lost my dad, who looked after me. Our family have been through a terrible time. This proposal is a disgrace to all the families who have lost a loved one, or who will lose one to mesothelioma. This government must listen to us.” – Anon.
“I agree. Making people already suffering from bereavement and the stress caused by bereavement possibly having to pay for legal costs is disgusting and I fully support you and your organisation. Thank you for all the help you have given me and my family after my father was diagnosed with mesothelioma and I wish you to continue with your good and vital work.” – PR
“If these people had to watch their loved ones suffer they would know they deserve every penny they can get” – SE
“The existing system works well and is fair” – Anon.
“some MPs, in particular Anne Widdicome, have already stated that mesothelioma sufferers are lead swinging and are just jumping on the band wagon of “no win, no fee”. I wish I could sue the factory inspector who declared the working conditions were safe where I worked in the 60s. The government, insurance companies and employers knew asbestos wasn’t safe but they still took premiums.” – Anon.
“How dare they do this to us? Don’t they think we have suffered enough? Losing a husband at an early age, it gets worse not better”. - Anon.
“Before my husband’s death to a very bad illness, we received a lot of help from the asbestos victims support group. This was a great comfort. It’s a tragic illness and the victim and family need all the support they can get.” - Anon.
“How can it be fair (or moral) to reduce the costs levied on organisations that have taken your life through their negligence? It’s basically making you pay out for your own death” – Anon.
“When diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is difficult enough and makes you very weak. So, having this burden removed from you makes a difference. If we had the trauma of having to find this money, it would be unthinkable” – Anon.
“My husband was a victim of mesothelioma. I do not agree that their loved ones have to go through more pain. Government needs to get their facts right”. - EC
“My claim is being disputed by my ex employer where I worked for 32 years. I would not be able to afford to fight this injustice – what ordinary working man or woman could?” - Anon.
“I think everyone who suffers this terrible disease should be paid out to. My husband died almost 2 years ago and I’m still waiting. It is so very, very sad.” – Anon.
“I think this Bill is outrageous. Victims and their families do not need this as well.” – Anon.
“When the claim was going through, Phil was my main concern so it is difficult. But Phil was pleased to know I would be looked after, especially in my older years, it helped him to have peace of mind”. – Mrs. H
“Just to know that the solicitors were dealing with everything and whatever the outcome was, I didn’t have to pay was very i mportant”. – Anon.
“The government should live in the shoes of the s ufferers for a month to understand the turmoil they and their family go through without having to worry about court costs”. – Anon
“Mesothelioma is very distressing and disabling diseases. So its worrying having to make a decision to claim compensation to make financial provision for relatives” – Anon.
“I believe absolutely, it is totally unfair and wrong to expect the patient to pay any part of the cost of a claim, with regard to their illness (mesothelioma). This is a deadly and terminal illness, thrust upon them by their employer, without their knowledge or understanding. Therefore the claimants company should rightly bear all of the costs if they refuse to pay their employee their rightful compensation, for any reason, and decide to take the case to a court of law” – Anon.
Mrs Hilda Sadler who lost her husband to Asbestosis on 26-07-2002 and has become one of our strongest supporters.
On the 21 June the Government unveiled the Legal aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. Part 2 of the Bill contains provisions to make personal injury claimants bear legal costs which were paid by the defendant who is guilty of causing injury.
The provisions are drawn from Sir Rupert Jackson’s ‘Proposals for Reform of Civil Litigation Funding in England and Wales which “provide the opportunity to rebalance the risks of litigation between claimants and defendants”. This means that claimants will have to pay some legal costs out of their compensation so that large insurance companies can reduce their costs. This undermines a basic legal principle that the ‘polluter pays’, i.e. that the claimant receives full compensation.
All the asbestos victims support groups are in discussion with organisations campaigning against cuts to compensation. We will post further information in due course.
Please contact your MP and if possible make an appointment to discuss this important issue.
The Access to Justice Action Group has further information about Sir Rupert Jackson’s proposals www.accesstojusticeactiongroup.co.uk/home/
Please download and complete and post to:- MAVSG, Room 32, 2nd Floor, Oriel Chambers, 14 Water Street, Liverpool L2 8TD.
When raising this matter with your MP, please tell us when you return the questionnaire to the office.
The Government have at long last published some details of the pleural plaques scheme which was announced by the last Government in February. There have been a number of articles written about the new scheme, mainly focusing on who may be eligible for a payment of up to £5,000.
The criteria states that to qualify for a payment you must have been diagnosed with pleural plaques as a result of exposure to asbestos and have attempted to claim damages for the condition prior to 17 October 2007. In addition, you must have never resolved your case or received any interim payments of £5,000 or more for any claim for your pleural plaques. We have recently learnt that no posthumous claims will be allowed.
At this point in time we are advising victims that if you believe you may be eligible you should contact the solicitor who represented you in 2007 but not to agree to the solicitor making any deduction from any payment that you may be entitled to under this new scheme.
If you did not have a solicitor in 2007, or in all other cases, please contact our group before applying to the Government.
This is because all copies of documentation supporting your claim must be submitted within 30 days of making your application to the Government otherwise your claim will be rejected. Please note you can only apply once under this scheme.
We understand that there will be a review or appeals procedure against decisions rejecting a claim. Our group is concerned that claimants applying without the assistance of an expert solicitor in asbestos related disease will be left to appeal on their own.
Our group believes that under no circumstances should you be charged a fee for applying to the scheme.
The situation is far too vague at present and we are seeking clarity via expert solicitors in order that all eligible pleural plaques victims receive their just compensation without any deduction for costs by solicitors or claims farmers. We have contacted some claims farmers and are aware of some solicitors who have either failed to give an assurance that no deduction will be made or have quite blatantly said they have plans of making deductions.
We have received evidence of one particular solicitor asking a former client to sign an agreement allowing him to deduct £1665.65 (one third of his compensation) for processing his claim if it is successful. This man has already paid costs in his case of £550. If any solicitor or claims handler tries to charge you for their services please contact our group.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our office on 0151 236 1895.
Please find below the rules announced by the government for the Pleural Plaques scheme. Please note the time limits for producing your evidence to support your application which is within 1 month.
"Copies of additional documents must be submitted within 30 days of making your application to support your claim otherwise your claim will be rejected. Please note you can only apply once under this scheme".
According to the rules failure to produce the evidence and submit it to the scheme would exclude you from making a further application. Please see text above.
Expert solicitors in the field of Asbestos Related Disease litigation are currently seeking clarification on this and some other points in the scheme.
MAVSG will publish on our website the results of these enquiries when available.
Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group.
To qualify for payment through this scheme, you must have been diagnosed with pleural plaques as a result of exposure to asbestos and have attempted to claim damages for the condition prior to 17 October 2007.
In addition: As part of your damages claim, you must have a) issued a claim form or b) sent a claim letter prior to 17 October 2007 (in line with Pre-Action Protocol for Disease and Illness).
Or Prior to 17 October 2007 you must have named a defendant/insurer to make your claim against, approached a legal/trade union representative about your case and received confirmation that your case was being taken on
In addition, you must: not have received any interim payments from your claim for £5000 or more; have never resolved your case.
Applications are accepted by telephone or online only. To apply by telephone: 0300 303 8150 - lines are open from 08:30 - 17:00 Mon to Thurs and 08:30 - 16:30 on a Friday.
To apply online: online application form
Applications must be submitted by 1 August 2011 to be eligible.
The type of documents will depend on whether you had legal representation for your original damages claim.
You need a sealed copy (i.e. sealed by the issuing court) of the claim form [and particulars of claim]; or a copy certified by the solicitor, of the letter of claim and the documents in support which were sent with it to the defendant/insurer.
If you did not send a letter claiming damages as part of your original claim, you will need to provide:
Proof of diagnosis of pleural plaques resulting from exposure to asbestos (e.g. a medical report).
Copies of correspondence with the solicitor or trade union (certified by the solicitor or trade union) confirming the taking on of the case prior to 17 October 2007 and its handling.
Documentation to show that you were working in England or Wales and were exposed to asbestos in the course of that employment.
Details of the defendant and/or insurer and grounds of claim against that defendant/insurer