Settlement – abuse of process – limitation
High Court, Queen’s Bench Division
Andrew Edis QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge)
12 August 2014
The court allowed the claimant to bring his claim for mesothelioma against his past employers despite previously settling a claim for asbestos related disease against different employers.
The claimant had brought proceedings against seven of his past employers in relation asbestosis and pleural plaques which settled in 2003 for a lump sum of £26,000. Although there was a recognised risk the claimant would develop mesothelioma a claim for provisional damages was not pursued. This first set of proceedings did not include the defendants in the current action as the claimant’s solicitors had been unable to identify the insurers of second and third defendants and had not identified the correct name and identity of the first defendant.
Subsequent to the settlement in 2003, the claimant developed mesothelioma. His solicitors identified that the current defendants had not been included in the first proceedings and were now able to identify these defendants’ identity and insurers.
The defendants argued that: (1) it was an abuse of process for the claimant to proceed against them when he had already settled a claim in full and final settlement of his asbestos related condition, (2) the first settlement satisfied and extinguished all of the claimant’s causes of action, and (3) limitation applied and the court’s discretion should not be exercised as the defendants now faced financial hardship in paying damages above the amount they would have paid had they been named in the first proceedings.
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