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Abestos Related Illnesses

Asbestos Related Illnesses

Industrial Diseases – A Legal Point of View

Former Sussex Seaman Wins Asbestos Damages from Shipping Companies

A former merchant seaman has won damages from a number of shipping companies after developing a health condition related to asbestos exposure. 

Michael Hopekirk of St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex secured damages of £38,000 from his former employers which included several major shipping companies.

His solicitor, Brigitte Chandler of law firm Charles Lucas & Marshall and one of the UK’s leading legal specialists in asbestos litigation, was able to secure damages for Mr Hopekirk – despite many of the companies no longer being in existence.

They included Clipper Wonsild Tankers UK Limited, previously known as Crescent Shipping, Tower Shipping Limited and Mardorf Peach and Company Limited.

Mr Hopekirk worked for much of his life as a skipper and engineer on board merchant navy ships where he was frequently exposed to heavy asbestos. He retired in 2006. When ships went out in bad weather, dust would often rise in the air from asbestos pipes. He was never given any masks or protective clothing.

“If he had to do any repair work he had to chisel off the asbestos from the pipes in the boiler room which again caused asbestos to rise in the air,” said Brigitte Chandler.

Mr Hopekirk, now aged 70, started having health problems in 2008 and was advised he had developed diffuse pleural thickening of his lungs caused by asbestos exposure. A few days before the court was to adjudicate on damages due to him, the defendants offered a settlement to compensate him for his pain and suffering.

“This was a difficult case because Mr Hopekirk worked with so many different companies and most of them were no longer in existence,” said Brigitte Chandler. “It took considerable research to find the insurance details for the different companies.”

Unfortunately the number of people developing asbestos disease is rising because of heavy use of asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s. Asbestos was widely used on most merchant navy ships and those working on the ships were not given any masks or protective clothing.

For further information contact Brigitte Chandler on 01793 511055 or brigitte.chandler@clmlaw.co.uk


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