Solicitors for a man suffering from mesothelioma have claimed a first by securing an agreement with the defendant insurers to cover the future costs of his cancer treatment, no matter the amount or length.
The agreement created a deferred periodical payments order (PPO) that meant that a settlement did not have to wait until the claimant’s doctors actually advised that he should receive immunotherapy treatment.
According to Irwin Mitchell, which acted for the unnamed Leeds man, this avoided the need to estimate treatment costs ahead of time “in an area of breathtaking change both in terms of the drugs available and their cost”.
The agreement recognised that there was “a realistic risk” that, at some time in the future, the claimant’s condition would advance to the point where immunotherapy was deemed suitable for him.
It provided that the PPO would not trigger until such time as his treating oncologist recommended the treatment.
Once the order was triggered, the insurer would commence quarterly payments at a rate assuming the most expensive of the immunotherapy drugs available. However, once treatment had begun, the actual price would be worked out and parties would work together to ensure either shortfall was covered, or excess was returned.
If different drugs were recommended, then the payments would change to match the new therapy cost.
Irwin Mitchell partner Ian Toft said: “This is a landmark agreement which provides security for a man who needs it due to his devastating mesothelioma diagnosis.
“The order helps eradicate some of the uncertainty that comes with settling this type of claim. Treatments are constantly developing and with this, so are the costs. Unfortunately none of the treatment available to this claimant can be obtained on the NHS, free of charge.
“This order has now put the structure in place to ensure that whenever the treatment is needed, it is covered. It gives our client some much-needed peace of mind at such a difficult time of his life.”
Jeremy Roussak, junior counsel at Kings Chambers in Manchester who was instructed by Irwin Mitchell along with Michael Rawlinson QC), added: “It is pleasing to see that the insurers involved in this case have taken the pragmatic step of agreeing a form of PPO.
“If this agreement is used regularly, it will help both sides involved in asbestos litigation. Victims will be given the assurance that should they need immunotherapy or biological therapy in the future then the funds will be made available for it indefinitely.
“Insurers will benefit from it because it will save them from making any payments at the time of settlement towards the anticipated costs of immunotherapy which may never in fact occur if the victim is not considered suitable for it.
“It will also speed up claims by removing any need to wait to see whether immunotherapy is to be provided and if so, in what form. Overall we think this is good news for both victims and for those who meet their claims.”
The claimant is believed to have been exposed to asbestos while working with asbestos insulation board sheets when employed by John Atkinson & Sons Limited. These would need to be cut, by hand, to size which created dust that would linger and leave him exposed.