In the ongoing ’toxic cabin air’ litigation and the Inquests concerning the death of 2 crew members, the inquest concerning the death of Matthew Bass was held in Reading, Berkshire on 30 April 2018.
The Senior Coroner for Berkshire recorded a verdict of ‘death by misadventure’. Matthew was a member of Unite and British Airways’ cabin crew. Over 4 years after his death, his family finally have a ‘formally recorded’ explanation for his passing.
The evidence had been approached in 3 stages – first the coroner had obtained his own pathological report; second, the Bass’ family’s prior lawyers obtained their own equivalent and finally, the coroner obtained expert neuropathology and cardiological evidence. Whilst the second stage of the evidence indicated a cause strongly associated to Matthew’s work history of exposure to organophosphates during his employment as cabin crew (‘aerotoxicity’), the third stage evidence made it clear that, on the facts of this case, there had been no such involvement in his death. However, that later evidence did not purport to rule out the existence and effect of ‘aerotoxicity’ and indeed the Coroner’s own experts had noted the coincidence that in this case and that of the Richard Westgate case (both relatively young and fit men), there was evidence both of lymphocytic myocarditis and peripheral nerve damage.
On that basis the Bass family’s present lawyers asked the Coroner that a letter of concern be written to the Chief Coroner inviting him to consider alerting ALL coroners in England & Wales that where the family of the Deceased considered it possible that a death had arisen from ‘aerotoxicity’, special and extended pathological examination be undertaken, in particular with respect to peripheral neurological damage. The Senior Coroner agreed. He did so by accepting two arguments; first, because in this way better data on the effect of exposure to such chemicals by air crew at work could be gathered, and second, potentially vital but subtle changes would be picked up.
The Unite campaign will continue to progress as there is a broadening field of awareness about the causes of illness and injury arising from exposure to pyrolised aircraft engine oil and hydraulic fluid substances. Unite are currently supporting a cohort of over 100 potential claimants, both cabin crew and pilots. The Unite press release can be seen here.
Anna Roffey of Old Square Chambers was led by Michael Rawlinson QC of Kings Chambers/12KBW, instructed by David Robinson from Thompsons Solicitors on behalf of the Bass family.
aerotoxicity, anna roffey, inquest, unite, british airways
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