A case being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) ended in a hollow victory last week as the family of a 56 year old woman who died of mesothelioma face further legal challenges to obtain payment of compensation from the insurers of the company liable for her exposure to asbestos.
Jill Bolstridge was diagnosed with the aggressive cancer mesothelioma in June 2011. Just four months later, in the October of that year, she died aged 56 after enduring severe pain and progressive debility.
Jill contracted mesothelioma caused by asbestos dust brought home on the work overalls worn by her husband during the course of his employment with S. Robinson & Sons (Engineers) Limited between 1981 and 2011.
The company went into administration six days before Jill’s death. Her family is pursuing a case for damages against the company via its liquidators and public liability insurers.
At a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on the 25 June 2015, HHJ Walden-Smith awarded £650,000 in compensation to the family – a sum which is likely to remain unpaid as the two insurers dispute who should pay.
The size of the award reflected the fact that Jill had given up her career to care full time for her adult son, Earl, who has severe learning disabilities. Earl, who is now 37, requires 24 hour support and will continue to do so for the rest of his life, something his father Jim will now provide for as long as he is fit and able to do so.
“The Bolstridge family potentially face years of further litigation to bring this case to its rightful conclusion and to secure damages. This is a terrible indictment of our legal system.
“The innocent victims are a 66 year old widower and his severely disabled son,” said Neil Baines, an asbestos disease specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, who is acting on their behalf.
“It cannot be right that a bereaved family are being treated as an ‘unsecured creditor’ in the liquidation of a company by insurers who seek to exploit potential legal loopholes in order to evade responsibility.”
“Despite court instructions for an interim payment, no compensation has been paid to the family. Jim needs help now to look after Earl – instead he faces years of litigation against the insurers.”
Mr Bolstridge said: “We have been involved in this legal battle since November 2013 and despite several courts finding in our favour, the insurance companies involved continue to deny us progress.
“We remain devastated at Jill’s loss and are committed to holding those liable to account.”