Thompsons Solicitors have helped a client win compensation after calling a medical expert who convinced the Court of Session that he was suffering from asbestosis, and not an unrelated condition with similar effects.
Both Mr Andrew Young’s former employers, The Ministry of Defence and the Coal Board, admitted negligently exposing him to asbestos but argued that his breathing difficulties were caused by a condition called CFA.
But the Court of Session accepted medical evidence that Mr Young would already be dead if he was suffering from CFA whose victims have a life expectancy of less than five years, ruled that he is suffering from asbestosis, and awarded him undisclosed compensation.
Bruce Shields of Thompsons Solicitors who represented Mr Young, said: “This case has important implications for other asbestosis sufferers where there are conflicting opinions from medical experts.
“We are committed to helping people like Mr Young pursue the recognition they seek when their health has been permanently affected as a result of the negligence of past employers.
“Asbestosis continues to impair the lives of many workers. Cases like these should also serve as a reminder to present day employers to take the proper measures to protect their workers from the hazards of asbestos.”
Mr Young, 60, a grandfather, from Dunfermline, Fife, said: “I am delighted with the outcome of the case.
“Having asbestosis is worrying enough but the uncertainty over the diagnosis has just added to my concern. At least I can now put that behind me.
“This was never about the money. It was about the fact that my former employers didn’t want to admit responsibility, so they would rather it had been something else.”
His breathing difficulties mean he has had to give up hobbies like hill climbing and leading local scout troops, but he still works 4 days a week fitting bathrooms for a local company.
Mr Young spent 10 years as a fitter at Rosyth Dockyard from 1966 to 1976 working on the refit of naval vessels where he had frequent contact with dust from asbestos lagging on pipes being stripped and renewed.
He later worked at Comrie Colliery in Fife as a fitter and was exposed to more asbestos dust working on steam boilers and valves.
Since 2004 he noticed he was becoming increasingly short of breath and doctors at Queen Margaret Hospital found evidence of lung disease which was attributed to his former employment.
Both the Ministry of Defence and the Coal Board admitted liability for negligently exposing Mr Young to asbestos. They accepted he was suffering from a lung condition but argued that it was CFA which is unrelated to asbestos exposure.
Temporary Judge Morag Wise QC heard conflicting evidence from two expert chest physicians before ruling that Mr Young’s illness was indeed asbestosis and awarding damages.
Referring to the life expectancy of CFA sufferers in her judgment, Temporary Judge Wise said: “Taking all of the evidence led on this aspect together, I can conclude only that average survival from diagnosis for CFA sufferers is somewhere between 2.43 and 4.5 years.
“Mr Young has now survived longer than average for a CFA sufferer.
“I have reached the view that all of the important diagnostic factors in this case militate in favour of a diagnosis of asbestosis and I find that that is the condition from which Mr Young suffers.”