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Steam Packet loses compensation battle

The widow of a ship's cook who said he was deafened by excessive noise on Isle of Man Steam Packet ferries has won a £3180 compensation payout on appeal.

Thomas Keefe, from Liverpool, spent more than 35 years as a cook in the galleys of various ships, many of which plied the crossing between the city and the Isle of Man.

When an ear test in June 2004 revealed he had suffered noise induced hearing loss, he blamed his employer of more than 20 years, the Steam Packet.

He launched a compensation claim against the company, which was taken to its conclusion by his widow, Carol, after Mr Keefe died before he could have his day in court.

Today, three senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London finally brought the long-running saga to an end by overturning a previous ruling in the company's favour and awarding Mrs Keefe £3,000 in damages, plus interest.

But Lord Justice Longmore criticised the fact that it had even got to the Appeal Court, where costs can spiral.

He said, "It is much to be deprecated that the case has had to come to this court to achieve so small a result."

The company was ordered to pick up the full legal bill for the case and pay £20,000 up front before a final assessment.

The total cost of the claim could run to more than £50,000.

Lord Justice Longmore said it was clear that the company had breached its duty in not measuring noise levels at locations on the ship.

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