The claimant was a painter and finisher of RAF planes in the run up to the first Gulf war.
Aircraft had to be stripped of their original paint and reapplied with specialist colours and paints required for desert operation.
The painters worked in aircraft hangars in what the Judge called “appalling Victorian conditions”, involving working in excess of 12 hours per day with a “potentially lethal cocktail” of solvents in the chemicals used.
These included Trichloroethylene and Dichloromethane which were known neurological toxins since the 1960s. There was wholly inadequate personal protective equipment and ventilation and massive breaches of a factor of about 10 -20 times of the occupational exposure limits to these chemicals.
Within a couple of years, the claimant, previously a fit distance runner, began to suffer a decline in his health and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1993.
Later this diagnosis was changed to multiple system atrophy, which is associated with degeneration of cells in the nervous system. He suffered problems with his balance, movement and other functions such as bladder control.
Another two painters who worked in the same environment developed similar conditions.
Proceedings were issued in 2007 but we received the court’s initial permission on limitation to proceed with the claim. There was a five-day trial between 26-30 April 2010 in which, the Ministry of Defence capitulated on the fifth day of trial and accept a breach of duty of care.
Despite that admission they did not admit causation.
The Judge said that, although there was limited evidence in the case as to the effects of the toxins, this was largely because there is such a limited population of individuals who have been exposed to such toxins and at such high levels.
However it was known such toxins could cause damage to the brain. On a balance of probabilities, it was the cause of the condition from which Mr Wood now suffered.
He is now profoundly disabled and a further hearing will now take place at which a level of compensation is decided.
His wife is in effect his full time carer.
We still have another case in the pipeline on similar issues and, after publicity from the Daily Mirror about this case, another painter has been in touch with similar details.
X -v- Ministry of Defence, Middlesbrough QBD, 5th May 2010.