Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office have secured a landmark agreement with defendant insurers to cover the future costs of cancer treatment for a man suffering from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during his employment decades ago.
In the first of its kind for a mesothelioma claim, the claimant will now have enough funds to cover the cost of any immunotherapy treatment in the future, no matter what it entails and no matter how long it lasts for.
The landmark agreement creates a periodical payments order and means that a settlement did not have to wait until the claimant’s treating doctors actually advised that he should receive immunotherapy treatment.
Irwin Mitchell said that the agreement also recognised that there was a realistic risk that at some time in the future the claimant ’s condition would advance to the point where immunotherapy (or biological therapy) was deemed suitable for him. The order will only be triggered once the claimant’s treating oncologist recommends it, after which the insurer will commence quarterly payments at a rate equal to the most expensive of the immunotherapy drugs available.
However once treatment begins, then the actual price will be worked out and the parties will work together to ensure that either a shortfall is covered, or the excess is returned. If different drugs will be recommended then the payments will change to match the new therapy cost.
The claimant instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015. The Leeds-based man is believed to have been exposed to asbestos while working with asbestos insulation board sheets when employed by John Atkinson & Sons Limited. These would need to be cut, by hand, to size which created dust that would linger and leave him exposed.
Ian Toft, a partner at Irwin Mitchell and the asbestos-related disease specialist representing the man, said: “This is a landmark agreement which provides security for a man who needs it due to his devastating mesothelioma diagnosis.
“Sadly this is one of numerous cases where an employee has been failed by their employer by not being provided with the necessary safety equipment to protect them from the harmful asbestos dust and fibres that were present during parts of their working life many years ago.
“The order helps eradicate some of the uncertainty that comes with settling this type of claim. Treatments are constantly developing and with this, so are the costs. Unfortunately none of the treatment available to this claimant can be obtained on the NHS, free of charge.
“This order has now put the structure in place to ensure that whenever the treatment is needed, it is covered. It gives our client some much needed peace of mind at such a difficult time of his life.”
Jeremy Roussak, at Kings Chambers in Manchester, who was instructed by Irwin Mitchell as their iunior counsel, together with Michael Rawlinson QC, added: “It is pleasing to see that the insurers involved in this case have taken the pragmatic step of agreeing a form of periodical payments order.
“If this agreement is used regularly it will help both sides involved in asbestos litigation. Victims will be given the assurance that should they need immunotherapy or biological therapy in the future then the funds will be made available for it indefinitely.
“Insurers will benefit from it because it will save them from making any payments at the time of settlement towards the anticipated costs of immunotherapy which may never in fact occur if the victim is not considered suitable for it.
“It will also speed up claims by removing any need to wait to see whether immunotherapy (or biological therapy) is to be provided and if so, in what form.
“Overall we think this is good news for both victims and for those who meet their claims,” he added.