High Court Judgment For Former Suffolk Carpenter With Asbestosis

Man Speaking Out On Asbestos Dangers

A former carpenter living with an asbestos-related disease has spoken out on his condition to raise awareness of the dangers of the substance.

Edward Balls, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, was diagnosed with asbestosis, a long-term inflammation and scarring of the lungs linked to exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.

Following his diagnosis in 2017, Edward, 81, instructed asbestos-related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and whether he could have come into contact with asbestos while working for a local construction firm for approximately 30 years from the 1950s onwards.  He was employed as a carpenter, working on the construction of various buildings in Suffolk, including farm buildings and residential properties.  His job involved cutting, sawing and drilling asbestos sheets.

As an out of court settlement could not be reached, the case proceeded to trial.  The case was heard in the High Court across two days in March this year.

The Court had to consider whether Edward was exposed to asbestos during his employment and whether it caused him to develop asbestosis.  The main point of contention was whether Edward had brought his claim within the three-year limitation period.

In late March, the High Court handed down an approved judgment which found that Edward had regularly been exposed to asbestos during his employment without any precautionary measures in place.  The Judge also stated that, on the balance of probabilities, the regular exposure to asbestos caused Edward to develop asbestosis.

The Judge noted that asbestosis is a cumulative condition, which in Edward’s case was not formally diagnosed until 2017.  Therefore, the claim was well within the limitation period.

The judgment has provided Edward with security for the future.  As the claim has been provisionally settled, this will allow Edward to seek further treatment in the event that his condition worsens or he develops a further asbestos-related disease.

Expert Opinion

“Edward’s case is yet another reminder of the terrible legacy left behind by asbestos, with many people going on to develop illness several decades after exposure.

While there is nothing that can be done to change what Edward is going through, we are pleased that this judgment will ensure he has access to the care he needs and he has protection for the future if his condition worsens.

Meanwhile, Edward hopes that sharing his story will help make people aware that asbestos is still a very real hazard in the workplace.”

Samantha Shaw – Senior Associate

Over the past few years, Edward’s condition has deteriorated.  He now suffers from shortness of breath and a bad cough.

He said: “When I was first diagnosed, it was a huge shock, but it’s only been the past few years that I’ve really been affected.

“I used to be quite fit and active, and enjoyed cycling or going for daily walks with my wife, but I can’t even walk short distances now without becoming breathless.  It’s so upsetting and I know that it’ll only get worse.

“I know there’s no way I’ll ever be rid of this, but at least I now have some assurance that I will get the treatment I need, now and in the future.  It’s a terrible condition to live with and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.”

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in handling asbestos-related disease cases

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