An ex- mineworker in the UK, who received no warning of the dangers of asbestos while working in the mines for eighteen years, has been awarded mesothelioma cancer compensation amounting to 73,890 pounds (87,000 Euros).
Dennis Ball (92) from Beeston, Nottinghamshire, was employed by the National Coal Board at Sutton and Moorgreen Collieries between 1967 and 1985. It was there, it was alleged in his claim, that he contracted his mesothelioma cancer due to exposure to asbestos fibres and dust.
Mrs Justice Swift at London´s High Court heard that prior to being found on the floor of his flat by his step-son in March 2010, Dennis had been in good general health and had lead an independent, active life. The development of his illness had meant he had to forgo his independent status and live in a care home.
The judge heard that the Department of Energy and Climate Change – who now administer liabilities on behalf of the National Coal Board and British Coal Corporation – admitted that Dennis had probably been given neither warnings about the dangers of exposure to asbestos nor any personal protective equipment for his safety.
Finding in Dennis´ favour, the judge commented that “there is no reason to suppose that he is not experiencing a real fear about the ordeal that may be in store for him, together with distress at the knowledge of his imminent death and its cause. Importantly, however, the onset of illness forced him to leave his home and thus to lose his independence.” She awarded Dennis 73,890 pounds in mesothelioma cancer compensation to account for his suffering, loss of years and loss of amenity.
A nurse in Australia has won her claim for lifting injury compensation, and been awarded AU 500,000 dollars by a jury at the Victoria Supreme Court.
Margaret Pozzobon (58) from Nanawading, Melbourne, was employed by the Wantirna Aged Care Facility as a care nurse until February 2006, when she sustained severe cervical spine injuries during a night shift duty. The injury was due to lifting a resident of the facility who was known to suffer from bipolar disorder and was inclined to strip his bed and lie on the floor.
On the night Margaret sustained her injury, she was the only member of staff on duty and it was on the sixth occasion that she placed the resident back into bed that her injury occurred. Margaret´s injuries meant that she had to undergo surgery and she still has to be administered with spinal injections and nerve blocks because of the pain she still experiences.
After seeking legal advice, Margaret made a claim for occupational health compensation, claiming that the elderly resident should have been placed in a high care facility, in which case her injury would never have happened. The care facility disputed her claim and Margaret took her case to Victoria Supreme Court where, after an eight day civil trial, a jury found in her favour.
The AU 500,000 dollars award of lifting injury compensation is in respect of the pain and suffering that Margaret experienced at the time of her injury and during her treatment, the loss of earnings she has incurred since February 2006 and is the future as she is no longer able to work because of her disability, and to compensate the former nurse for the deterioration in her quality of life.
According to figures released by Kettering General Hospital Trust, more than a third of all hospital injury compensation claims made by its own staff are attributable to slips, trips and falls.
Representatives of the Northamptonshire hospital claim that the 300,000 pounds that they paid out over the past five years in compensation payments to its staff “is comparable with other hospitals” and that “many measures, training schemes and policies and procedures in place to prevent accidents”.
Nonetheless, in the five year period to April 2011, 40 staff made hospital injury compensation claims with a total value of 313,126 pounds. 115,527 pounds was paid out in hospital injury compensation claims following falls in the hospital which were attributable to the hospital´s own lack of care, with some of the other significant amounts being:-
98,635 pounds for lifting injuries
17,079 pounds due to incidents involving needles
10,000 pounds in hospital injury at work claims due to the environment
6,171 pounds paid to staff exposed to infections, electricity or other hazardous substances
Under the terms of the hospital´s public liability insurance, all injury at work claims less than 10,000 have to be paid by the hospital itself, making a significant hole in the funds available to invest in healthcare and the wellbeing of the hospital´s patients.
A skip delivery man from Lancashire, who lost his thumb and finger in a manual handling accident, has won his injuries at work claim and is to receive 175,000 pounds.
In January 2009, Heath Riley (45) from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire was delivering a skip for Enviro Skips Ltd of Burnley, Lancashire, when the skip he was intending to unload slipped due to being placed inside another insecurely and crushed his hand. When an ambulance was summoned, Heath had the thumb of his right hand amputated at the scene and doctors failed to save his index finger during microsurgery at the Royal Preston Hospital.
Heath also lost the use of two other fingers in his hand and, after being discharged from hospital, sought legal advice about making an injuries at work claim. It was discovered following an investigation into the accident that the skips had been loaded insecurely as they were damaged and unsafe to use. As such Enviro Skips Ltd should have withdrawn them from service and not allowed them to be stacked to go out for delivery.
In an out-of-court settlement for hand injury compensation, Heath was awarded 175,000 pounds to account for his pain and suffering at the time of the accident, his future loss of earnings as he will no longer be able to work in a position which requires manual labour, and for the deterioration in the quality of his life as he will no longer be able to pursue his DIY hobbies.
Scotland´s largest teaching union – the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) – has revealed that more than 650,000 pounds was paid out to its members in occupational injury compensation, including one six-figure payment for stress in the workplace.
The unnamed teacher was awarded the compensation for stress after their employer refused to respond to the teachers concerns of an excessive workload. The teacher consequently sustained a stress-related psychiatric injury and received their compensation for stress in the workplace in an out-of-court settlement.
The General Secretary of the EIS, Ronnie Smith, commented that “The growth in the number of cases involving psychiatric injury and stress-related illness must be a warning to employers that they need to take account of their employees’ mental, as well as physical, wellbeing. The fact that this record compensation award arose from a workload-related case, which was compounded by a lack of management support, is no coincidence.”
A Scottish government spokesman said that they expect councils to take appropriate action to minimise the risk of stress in the workplace for teachers
A man who worked his entire life as a deck hand aboard naval vessels, commercial ships and ferries has been awarded 1.45 million dollars in occupational illness compensation by a jury in Seattle a year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer.
Roger Hammett (84) of Maury Island in Puget Sound, Washington, was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in August 2010 after collapsing with breathing difficulties in his garden. His condition had been caused by exposure to asbestos through his sea-faring career particularly, the jury at Kings County District Court heard, while working aboard the SS Seattle – a commercial ferry which ran between Seattle and Kodiak Island in Alaska throughout the sixties.
It was alleged in Roger´s asbestos compensation claim that Sea-Land Service Inc – the ferry company who owned SS Seattle – was in violation of government health regulations in force at the time regarding the handling of and proximity to asbestos. Roger´s lawyer claimed that there was no excuse for Sea-Land Service Inc. to be unaware of the risks associated with exposure to asbestos as so much information was available at the time.
After a trial lasting a week, the Seattle jury found in favour of Roger´s claim for occupational illness compensation, but decided that Sea-Land Service Inc. could only be considered to be 70 per cent liable for his injuries due to Roger´s extensive career working for other companies. Therefore the amount of asbestos compensation was restricted to 1.45 million dollars.
The family of man who suffered catastrophic head injuries on a construction site due to a lack of training are to receive a brain injury settlement in excess of 4 million pounds.
Christopher Kaye (57) from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was changing the grapple attachment on an excavator in October 2008 when the tragic accident occurred. Due to a lack of training, the machine operator failed to employ the release mechanism correctly and an iron rod sprang free and hitting him with force on the head.
Christopher was knocked to the ground with the impact of the blow and was immediately rushed to Sheffield Hospital where he underwent life-saving surgery. Despite the doctor´s best efforts, his accident left him with permanent brain damage and Christopher now requires round-the-clock care.
Following an investigation into the accident, Christopher´s wife – Sue – made a claim for brain injury compensation against her husband´s former employers – Euro Dismantling services Ltd – claiming that the lack of training, combined with no written instruction or personal protective equipment had led to her husband´s injury.
The company originally denied the allegations however, shortly before the case was due to be heard in court, agreed to a brain injury settlement on the basis of 90% liability. The settlement will consist of an immediate lump sum payment of 1.75 million pounds and further annual payments of 135,000 pounds for remainder of Christopher´s life – a total in excess of 4 million pounds based on a life expectancy of twenty years.
The families of 29 miners who died in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia last April, are to share 47 million dollars following the latest fine to be imposed on pit owners, Alpha Natural Resources; raising the total amount paid in fatal accident claims due to the tragedy to over 60 million dollars.
An investigation into the explosion found that there was an excess amount of methane and coal dust present in the underground environment and 369 breaches of workplace safety regulations – 12 of which led directly to the explosion taking place. The company were fined a further 35 million dollars for safety violations and told to put 128 million dollars aside for safety upgrades, research and training.
The eighteen families affected by the tragedy who have already settled their fatal accident claims with Alpha Natural Resources will be entitled to receive a proportion of the fine, but those surviving workers who are yet to have their cases resolved – including nine claims for emotional distress – will have to wait a little longer for their cases to reach court.
The total amount of fines and embargos placed upon Alpha Natural Resources in this latest order (210 million dollars) is the biggest settlement recorded for a coal mining tragedy of this magnitude.
A dock worker, who sustained a brain injury when hit by a defective mooring cable, has won his injuries at work compensation claim against his employer in the Texas Supreme Court.
Cody Karl of League City, Texas, was working at the Magellan Terminal located on the Houston Ship Channel when, on 1st June 2008, he formed part of a team assigned to dock a 600 foot tanker. Cody was aboard a docking skiff when one of the cables used to moor the ship parted and hit him on the head.
Despite wearing a hard hat, Cody was diagnosed with brain injuries which lead to cognitive dysfunction and a loss of physical strength along the left side of his body. After seeking legal advice, Cody made an injuries at work claim against the Magellan Terminal, claiming that the mooring cable was in an unsafe condition for the tension it had to withstand.
Cody´s employers disputed the claim, stating that Cody himself should have seen that the cable had deteriorated and was not safe to use, but at the 125th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas, Judge Christine Butts found in favour of the claimant and awarded him 15.12 million dollars.
An Australian secretary, who suffered a prolapsed disc injury when moving a delivery of photocopier paper which had been left on her desk, has had her personal injury compensation award of 239,613 Australian Dollars upheld by a judge in Queensland.
Kathryn Jane Dank (54) had been employed as a senior secretary by Tabcorp Holdings for many years, and was a respected member of staff when the injury occurred in October 2004. In the process of removing a 12.7 Kg box of photocopy paper which had been left on her desk by delivery men, Kathryn sustained a prolapsed disc injury.
Despite the pain and discomfort, Kathryn continued to work at Tabcorp Holdings limited until February 2005 when the pain became too much for her to bear. After seeking legal advice, Kathryn made an Occupational Health Compensation Claim, stating that she should not have been lifting heavy boxes in the role for which she was employed.
In last year´s hearing at the District Court at Southport, Queensland, Judge Clive Wall QC awarded Kathryn 239,613 Australian Dollars in compensation after finding Tabcorp Holdings Limited guilty of negligence on three counts:-
That they failed to instruct Kathryn not to lift heavy boxes
That they failed to prevent storemen from placing heavy boxes on her desk
That they failed to ensure that heavy boxes were stored at the correct height
Tabcorp Holdings Limited appealed the decision but, at the Court of Appeal, Justice Hugh Fraser stated that Tabcorp Holdings Limited had not established a ground for setting aside the judge’s original decision that the injury was caused by its negligence.
A Connecticut railway worker, who was injured in the course of his employment and then denied a promotion because of his injury, has been awarded more than 140,000 in damages by the Connecticut Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Bill Ordner from New Haven, Connecticut, worked as an ironmonger for the Metro-North Railroad when, in 2008, he injured his knee in a work-related accident. His employers claimed that the injury was not work-related, disqualifying Bill from claiming Worker´s Compensation while he was unable to work and unable to claim against a medical bill in excess of $2,000.
On returning to work, Bill applied for the position of locomotive engineer – one he was adequately qualified for – but was turned down by Metro-North Railroad on the grounds of his knee injury. Bill took legal advice on the matter and sued Metro-North railroad for personal injury and loss arising from their misclassification of his knee injury.
In the subsequent hearing at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration offices in Boston, the administration judged that Metro-North’s policies and actions “may deter employees from reporting on-the-job injuries for fear of financial or career consequences”, and ordered them to pay Bill $125,000 in punitive damages, $5,000 in compensatory damages and $11,651 in legal and medical expenses.
Metro-North Railroad also was ordered to pay Bill the difference between his current rate of pay and that of the new position plus interest.
A Carnival Cruise assistant maitre d´, who sustained a lumbar injury in the course of his duties and was then denied medical treatment, has been awarded almost 800,000 dollars through the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.
Polish born Martin Sokolowski was working aboard the Carnival Cruise ship “Imagination” in June 2008, when he felt a “pop” in his back while lifting food bins weighing up to 100 pounds on and off of the ship. He immediately reported to the ship´s doctor who prescribed pain medication and then administered a pain relief injection several days later when the pain had not abated.
Martin was transferred to another ship later in the month, where his symptoms worsened to include numbness in his right buttock which extended down his leg to his foot. Again Martin was only given pain relief medication, and it was only when the ship docked in Mexico that was Martin able to consult an independent doctor.
The Mexican doctor determined that Martin should have an MRI scan, and this revealed that Martin had sustained a herniated disc. However, although the doctor recommended that Martin be admitted to the local Cabo San Lucus Hospital for emergency lumbar surgery, administrators at Carnival Cruises refused to allow Martin to have the surgery and told that he would have to remain on board the ship which was due to depart for San Diego.
The cruise liner did not arrive in San Diego until August, and Martin went immediately to the UCSD Medical Centre Neurosurgical Department. After an examination, a doctor ordered that he be immediately admitted to the hospital and an emergency lumbar discectomy performed. Unfortunately, the delay in treatment caused Martin to suffer permanent nerve damage to his right leg.
In November 2008, Martin´s neurosurgeon declared that he was permanently disabled and Martin returned to Poland, where the Gydnia County Disability Commission confirmed the doctor´s diagnosis.
No longer able to work in the cruise ship industry, Martin took legal advice and sued Carnival Cruises for failing to allow him receive the emergency surgery he needed. Represented in the US and through the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, Martin had to wait almost three years for his claim to be resolved, but is now to receive the substantial payment due to Carnival Cruises negligence.
A New York chemist has been awarded 2.5 million dollars in personal injury compensation after being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer due to working with asbestos.
James Ginter of Buffalo, New York, was employed by the Durez Plastics company of North Tonawanda, New York from 1979 as a laboratory chemist. The company produced industrial resins and phenolic moulding compounds for the automobile industry and, as part of his duties, James was required to use a Friction Assessment Screening Test Machine, manufactured by car-maker Ford Motors.
In the process of using this machine, James had to grind experimental friction products used as car brakes – products which contained asbestos, and which produced a visible cloud of asbestos dust while the filing operation was under way. Despite being aware of the harmful effects of asbestos, Ford Motors manufactured this machine without providing any warnings about its use.
After seeking legal advice, James took both the Durez Plastics company and Ford Motors to court, claiming that they were jointly responsible for his incurable condition. After a two week trial at the Erie County Supreme Court, a jury found in favour of James and awarded him 2.5 million dollars, with liability shared between the two defendants.
A New York City sanitation engineer, who suffered an ankle injury when a colleague ran over his leg in a forklift truck, has accepted 5,250,000 million dollars in compensation in an out-of-court settlement.
Andrew Anderson (37) from New York City, was assisting the colleague install a snow plough to the forklift truck when the accident happened in early 2008. His colleague accidently ran over Andrew´s ankle, causing a severe ankle fracture which required two surgeries to correct.
Andrew also developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy during post-operative complications and sustained foot drop – for which he now requires the use of a foot brace. Since his accident, Andrew has been unable to work and been forced to take early retirement from the City of New York.
After taking legal advice, Andrew sued the City of New York for his injuries. Liability was not disputed and the case was heard in the New York Supreme Court for assessment of damages. However, shortly before the jury were about to begin their deliberations, lawyers on the two sides reached a negotiated settlement of 5,250,000 dollars to compensate Andrew for personal injury, lost earnings and loss of consortium.
A court in South Korea has ordered the giant electronics company to pay compensation to the families of two of its employees after they died from acute myeloid leukaemia.
In an action brought by the father of 22 year old Yu-mi Hwang, it was claimed that the working conditions at the company´s semiconductor plant in Gyeonggi Province exposed Yu-mi and an ex-colleague to toxic chemicals and ionising radiation which caused their illnesses.
Mr Hwang had originally been told that Yu-mi had died from a natural abnormality, but when a second employee also died of the disease, he became suspicious and started an investigation. As he dug deeper, he discovered that there had been many more deaths and illnesses suffered by Samsung employees engaged in cleaning the silicon crystals used in the manufacture of integrated electronic circuits.
Samsung denied the claim, stating that there was insufficient scientific evidence to determine accountability, but the South Korean court found in Mr Hwang´s favour, stating “It is fit to say there is a link between their leukaemia and their careers”.
The ruling could have a significant impact in the UK, where it has been claimed since the 1990s that a health risk exists at the National Semiconductors UK factory in Greenock, Scotland. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that women who worked at the plant developed a higher rate of lung, stomach and breast cancer, and men recorded a higher rate of brain cancer.
However, the HSE chose to take no further action – choosing instead to monitor the situation in the semiconductor industry as a whole.
According to a report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the percentage of men in America reporting sexual harassment in the workplace has more than doubled in the past twenty years.
The report which combines statistics gathered by the EEOC and Fair Employment Practice Agency (FEPA) shows that complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace instigated by males increased from 8.0% in 1990 to 16.4% for the year 2010.
Although the majority of complaints are still made by women, the agency is contacted by more than 2,000 men each year in respect of workplace sexual harassment – frequently alleging male-on-male harassment.
Although the growing number of claims recorded in this report would indicate that more men are being sexually harassed in the workplace, it is unclear whether it is simply a case of more men coming forward and reporting these incidents whereas they would have previously remained silent.
A Californian man, who contracted mesothelioma cancer after working with brake linings that contained asbestos, has been awarded almost 17.5 million dollars in a compensation package in a court hearing.
Gordon Bankhead (66) of Oakland, California, worked at the Sea-Land Shipping Company – also of Oakland, California – for more than 30 years. During this time, his duties included inspecting the brakes on heavy duty vehicles, and grinding, blowing out and fitting new brakes where necessary.
It was Gordon’s exposure to the asbestos in these brake components, which lead to him being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in March 2010. In the trial against his former employers, evidence was shown to the jury that the Sea-Land Shipping Company was fully aware that asbestos was present in the linings of the brakes, but failed to provide warnings to its customers and employees.
The jury subsequently awarded Gordon and his family a total settlement package of 17,470,000 dollars to compensate him for his economic loss, pain and suffering and punitive damages.
Berkshire local newspaper, The Wokingham Times, has reported that serious workplace injuries in the borough soared by 25% in 2009/10. Although there were no fatalities among those injured, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has urged local employers to redouble their commitment to health and safety.
Speaking to the paper, Mr Mike Wilcock, head of operations for the HSE in the south east, said: “Employers have a legal duty to protect their workers and I would encourage them to make it their New Year’s resolution to ensure they continue to take sensible precautions to prevent incidents in the workplace”.
Commenting on the general statistics for the whole of the south east of England region – which saw a reduction in the total number of all workplace injuries but an increase in the number of fatalities – Mr Wilcock continued “The reduction of employees injured through their work is encouraging, but we must remember that each death results in a family missing a loved one this festive season.”
According to the HSE Report for 2010, there were 3343 serious workplace injuries in the south east region and 15 fatalities.
The rapid response by BP in setting up a $20 billion compensation fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has resulted in headlines in Indian newspapers alleging double standards. The reality is a bit more complicated.
The 1983 Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant disaster is bar far the worst industrial catastrophe in history, causing 2,259 deaths immediately and about 15,000 eventually. The official estimates from the Indian government are 558,125 injuries, of which 38,478 were partial disablement and about 3,900 were severely and permanently disabled. There are also allegations that 390 tons of toxic chemicals have been abandoned at the plant that continue to leak and pollute the groundwater.
The disaster is also often cited as one of the worst examples of lack of corporate responsibility, employing tactics that reduce or delay financial liabilities.
Delay Court Cases
Some 26 years after the disaster, there are civil and criminal cases still pending in the United States District Court of Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal. In some cases, potential defendants are deceased and in many cases, the witnesses can not be expected to remember all the relevant details.
Divert Blame to Elsewhere
The current corporate owners, Dow Chemical Company, has an entire Web site dedicated to denying various allegations against it. The company position is that the disaster was the result of industrial sabotage.
The company somehow managed to persuade the Indian government in 1989 of freeing it of any liabilities by making a once-off payment that in no way covered the costs involved.
All of these actions are in stark contrast to the way in which BP is handling the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: rapid admission of guilt, unlimited resources to resolve the problem, and a massive prepayment of compensation.
The allegations of double standards are almost certainly not the result of different treatment for American victims versus Indian victims. They are primarily due to different companies having different corporate ethical standards.
An agreement has been reached for compensation for 10,000 workers claiming illnesses following the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack in New York City. The rescue and cleanup workers were exposed to smoke and airborne debris. New York City has agreed on a $712.5 million injury compensation fund.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has stated that victims will be “assured of a fair deal that puts money in their hand fast”.
The compensation for victims claiming debilitating respiratory diseases who contracted severe asthma within seven months of exposure will receive awards in the range of $800,000 and $1 million. The compensation agreed for deaths is in the range of $1.5 million.
The next step in the process is for at least 95% of the plaintiffs to consent to the agreement to make it legally binding on everyone.
Some interesting aspects of the deal:
Workers with no specific injury but who claim fear of becoming sick have been awarded $3,250.
Everyone is to get a special insurance policy for $100,00 for specific blood and respiratory cancers.