Clyde & Co has successfully defended the damages claims of 16,626 claimants alleging personal injuries and other losses from smoke exposure following a fire in June 2011 at the premises of Sonae Industria (UK) Limited in Kirkby, Merseyside. In a Judgment published today, Mr Justice Jay rejected the claims of local residents and found that levels of smoke exposure were not sufficient to endanger health.
The Judgment followed a four-week trial in Liverpool in June 2015 in which the Court considered extensive scientific and medical evidence and 20 representative Test Claims.
The damages and costs if the Claimants were successful had been estimated by their lawyers to be in the order of £100m.
Clyde & Co represented Sonae Industria on the instructions of their insurers, AIG Europe Limited. Mr Justice Jay found in favour of Sonae Industria on all issues. The Judge described 'serious weaknesses in the Claimants' overall case, and said: "Human beings are naturally susceptible and suggestible, particularly if they are made to believe that they form part of a coherent group with shared experiences, and if they risk none of their own resources in bringing a claim...Many of the questionnaires examined in the context of the Test Claimants were shown to be inaccurate and exaggerated, calling into question the objectivity and integrity of the whole process."
Documents submitted in support of two of the 20 Test Cases were found by Mr Justice Jay to "bear forged signatures". The two firms of solicitors acting for those Claimants, GT Law and Walter Barr Solicitors, are to be reported by the Judge to the Solicitors Regulatory...