Friday, 26 November 2010

The long arm of the law

This week seems to have been dominated by Steve's damages case.  We met the solicitor on Monday to go though all the things Steve had remembered after reading the documents disclosed by one of the defendants. 

The good news is that no one disputes Steve's account of events which we think were the most likely cause of exposure to asbestos dust - knocking down walls to create a big open plan studio in the School of Architecture where he was a student in the 1970s.  The bad news is how difficult it is to prove "beyond reasonable doubt"  that the work he did actually disturbed asbestos in quantities above the background levels generally found in the atmosphere.  

No detailed construction drawings have been disclosed specifying how concerns about fire resistance were addressed. Although asbestos is the obvious answer, proof is needed.  The walls were demolished nearly 40 years ago so the physical evidence is long gone.  A report on asbestos in the building dated 1983 states that most of the asbestos insulation and lining had been removed since 1974. Frustratingly, there are very few records of what was taken out of where during this period, and nothing specific the the part of the building where he was involved in demolition works.  

We are therefore looking at what has been found in the building since the 1980s, including floor tiles and adhesive, panels under windows and paper linings to pipework and under insulation in service ducts, all of which have since been sampled and found to contain asbestos of various types which could have been exposed or potentially damaged when the open plan studio was created.  

The other avenue to explore was to inspect the building as it stands today to see if there are any remnants of materials still in situ which might contain asbestos.  That inspection took place on Tuesday, with ourselves, our expert witness and various people from one of the defendants.  As a result of that inspection, our man has asked for more samples to be taken from a couple of places which may help Steve's case.

The next piece in the jigsaw arrived today - an updated statement for Steve to check through, amend where necessary and send back to the solicitor.  

Next Monday there will be a pre-trial hearing with our team and the defendants.  We won't be there, but will find out what happens afterwards. The long arm of the law is therefore stretching out at present, but whether it will find anything still remains to be seen.

We've had enough of court paperwork for the time being. It's less than two weeks now to Steve's next scan and assessment, a nerve wracking time - the stress levels are already starting to rise.  However, this time round we have a welcome distraction.  If you want to know what that is, then drop by next week! In the meantime, winter has arrived. On with the thermal layers, hats, scarves and gloves - stay warm and don't slip on the ice!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a lot of stress on top of an already stressful situation. Hope you get good results on all fronts.
    Now my mind boggles as to what your welcome distraction is. Will have to stay tuned...:-)
    Anita xoxo