A FORMER merchant seaman is to receive £38,000 in compensation from a number of shipping companies after developing a health condition related to asbestos exposure.
Michael Hopekirk, 70, of St Leonards, who retired in 2006, worked for much of his life as a skipper and engineer on board merchant navy ships where he was frequently exposed to heavy asbestos.
When ships went out in bad weather, dust would often rise in the air from asbestos pipes.
Mr Hopekirk was never given any masks nor protective clothing to wear.
“If he had to do any repair work he had to chisel off the asbestos from the pipes in the boiler room which again caused asbestos to rise in the air,” said Mr Hopekirk’s solicitor Brigitte Chandler, of law firm Charles Lucas and Marshall.
Mr Hopekirk, now aged 70, started having health problems in 2008 and was advised he had developed diffuse pleural thickening of his lungs caused by asbestos exposure.
A few days before the court was to adjudicate on damages due to him, the defendants, which included Clipper Wonsild Tankers UK Limited, previously known as Crescent Shipping, Tower Shipping Limited and Mardorf Peach and Company Limited, offered a settlement to compensate him for his pain and suffering.
“This was a difficult case because Mr Hopekirk worked with so many different companies and most of them were no longer in existence,” said Ms Chandler.
“It took considerable research to find the insurance details for the different companies.”