Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Workers Forced to Repay Cash

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Workers Forced to Repay Cash

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jane Picken & Paul McMillan

Five workers who suffer from an asbestos-related condition face repaying pounds 62,000 they were awarded from insurers after the Court of Appeal threw out further claims.

The men were successful in pleural plaque test cases at the High Court last February but insurers including Norwich Union and Zurich have since appealed.

On Thursday the Chronicle told how the Court of Appeal decided in favour of the insurance firms, blocking any further claims from hundreds of workers thought to have developed the condition.

But it has also emerged that part of the court's judgement requires the workers to repay the money paid out in earlier test cases, with interest.

A final decision on repayment was suspended until after another appeal, this time by solicitors acting for the workers, to the House of Lords.

The insurers have asked for all the money to be paid back by the end of April but this was suspended pending the outcome of the appeal to the Lords, which could take 18 months.

One test case worker was awarded pounds 33,000, a second received pounds 16,000 and three others were awarded pounds 4,000 each.

By law the insurers will be unable to claim back any compensation which the workers have already spent.

Engineer Ken Johnson, 59, of Deneway, Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, was one of those awarded pounds 4,000 in the test case. He said: "I think it's disgraceful. It will put people off claiming in the future."

Ian McFall, with Newcastle-based Thompson's solicitors, said the order only affects those whose case went before Mr Justice Holland in February last year. "They are not asking for everybody who has been involved in pleural plaques to give the money back," he said.

A spokeswoman from Norwich Union was unable to comment on the repayments. …

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