A Hartlepool asbestos victim has been given the go ahead to claim compensation for an asbestos related disease despite being advised in 2000 by a Hartlepool law firm that his claim was out of time, and without also being advised about whether he could make an application to set-aside the limitation time period.

John Elliott, who has three children and four grandchildren, also suffers from Alzheimer’s and is now living in a care home in Hartlepool.

The Elliott family, also from Hartlepool have now instructed asbestos claims specialists, Thompsons Solicitors in Newcastle, to claim damages after John, 79, was diagnosed with asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma.

Exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician

John believes he was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician at Teesside-based chemicals plant ICI between 1949 and 1958.

Thompsons were given the go ahead to pursue the claim against ICI following a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice to decide if the case could proceed even though 11 years have passed since John was first diagnosed with asbestos related disease. Normally court proceedings must start no later than three years after the diagnosis.

The court said the delay in bringing the case was no fault of John and was critical of some of the legal advice he had been given by Hartlepool law firm Tilly, Bailey & Irvine LLP.

Asbestos related, Pleural Thickening

John was first diagnosed with asbestos related pleural thickening in 1996 but when he approached Tilly, Bailey & Irvine solicitors they advised his case was out of time, and they failed to advise him as to whether he could make an application to set aside the limitation period.

In January 2006 Thompsons Solicitors were instructed to review his case.

Although the case was out of time Thompsons commenced a court action against ICI alleging negligent asbestos exposure and against Tilly Bailey & Irvine solicitors alleging professional negligence.

The court ruled that the family should be allowed to proceed with the claim against ICI and commented that in the judgment of the High Court Master, Tilly, Bailey & Irvine had given ‘poor advice’.

The judgment stated: “He (John) took reasonable steps to obtain expert advice and even in the face of adverse advice persisted in making a claim for benefits, a claim that was initially rejected on the basis that he did not have a compensatable injury. When he was told he did have one and that he was to receive compensation he did instruct solicitors and it is not his fault that those solicitors took the view that he was out of time to bring an action and wholly failed to advise him as to whether he could make an application to set aside the [time limit].”

Personal Injury Claim for Compensation will now go ahead

John’s son, Chris, said: “My dad has waited a long time to take this case to court. We are pleased that with the help of Thompsons Solicitors we are now able to bring the claim against ICI.

“He was determined to pursue this and we are pleased that the court has now said he can.”

Tony Hood of Thompsons Solicitors, who represents the Elliott family said: “Now that we have obtained the court’s permission we are pressing ahead with John’s claim and will bring it to a successful conclusion as soon as possible.”

Tilly, Bailey & Irvine are disputing the claim of negligence against them, and they claim to have acted carefully.

This news story was also published by Hartlepool Mail.