An engineer whose life has been over-shadowed by incurable lung disease 30 years after he was exposed to asbestos dust, was yesterday awarded £200,000 damages in London’s High Court.
Martin Budds, aged 52, from Bristol, was still a teenager on his first job when exposed to quantities of the dust while assisting in dismantling old boilers and mixing up asbestos fibre into paste.
In 1994 his past returned to haunt him when the diagnosis of a chronic lung disease was made.
The court heard that the diagnosis had a devastating effect on Mr Budds, triggering a serious psychiatric condition and making him feel “like a disabled wreck who may never work again”.
Yesterday Deputy High Court Judge Michael Kallipetis QC awarded Mr Budds £192,447 damages and interest of £2,900 against Trowbridge-based Marples Ridgway Developments Ltd, successors in title to G Applegate and Sons Ltd, for whom he worked in the early 1960s.
Mr Budds was about to begin a university career in the environmental field when told the news of his condition. He must now live in fear that he may develop full-blown asbestosis or mesothelioma – an incurable and agonising cancer of the lining of the lungs.
The judge said Mr Budds was in constant pain because of his condition, diagnosed as pleural thickening. He is formally categorised as 20 per cent disabled but the gravest toll on him has come from the psychological blow of the diagnosis and concerns for his future health, the court heard.
Formerly a tough, optimistic man, Mr Budds had at one point been diagnosed as clinically depressed and confessed to his doctor “he found life not worth living”.
The psychiatrist treating him believes his mental state will improve with the end of the litigation, but recognises he will always be anxious about the possible onset of asbestosis, the court heard.
Mr Budds, who has been a sheet metal worker and ventilation engineer, went to Australia in 1964.
He returned to Britain in the early 1990s and now lives in Bishopston, Bristol.
Marples Ridgway had not disputed liability in the case, but challenged the amount of the damages pay-out. The judge awarded Mr Budds £40,000 for his “pain, suffering and loss of amenity” with most of the rest of the award made up of compensation for loss of past and future earnings.
“Western Daily Press” 1999
Humphreys & Co. are pleased to support the North Bristol NHS Trust Mesothelioma Research Fund