Today the top 100 UK law firm Hugh James secured over £700,000 in compensation on behalf of a former Royal Marine.
The High Court trial proceedings which concluded today have been underway for the last eight days. The former serviceman had sustained noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus due to inadequate hearing protection and training by the MoD.
Mr. Justice Johnson concluded that 34 year old James Barry from Nottingham was obliged to leave his military career after more than three years due to the negligence of the Ministry of Defence.
Mr. Barry had initially begun to notice his hearing problems after Exercise Black Alligator in Twenty Nine Palms in California, which lasted for around two and a half months. At the time, the hearing problems were noted by the MoD in hearing tests, however, they continued to send him on exercises and subjected him to further unprotected noise exposure.
In May 2015, Mr. Barry was downgraded from his role within a few months of Exercise Black Alligator and subsequently forced to leave the Royal Marines in 2017.
In 2018, Mr. Barry informed the MoD of his intention to pursue a claim and later in 2020, he instructed military experts to issue a claim on behalf of his hearing loss. Despite this, The MoD continued to deny they were at fault throughout the five years of Mr Barry’s claim, but finally admitted they were at fault three weeks before the trial.
The MoD alleged that Mr. Barry was partly to blame for his hearing loss as he failed to replace his yellow foam inserts when they fell out and didn’t wear them under his PRR radio headset.
Mr Justice Johnson concluded that the responsibility for the hearing problems of Mr Barry overwhelmingly falls on the MoD and Mr Barry himself was not at fault in any way. The MoD has indicated that they intend to appeal against the judgement.
Simon Ellis, Partner and Head of the specialist Military Department at Hugh James, representing 4,000 military personnel with noise induced hearing loss claims, added:
“It is simply not acceptable that service personnel such as Mr. Barry are still not being given the correct equipment and training and that their lives and careers have been impacted by something that is entirely preventable and should not have occurred. This case could pave the way for others suffering from noise induced hearing loss and/or tinnitus to receive the damages they deserve, even if that injury occurred many years ago or they have been turned down in the past.
“There’s an alarming lack of awareness that still exists today within the armed forces community over hearing loss and people’s right to redress. Many are put off highlighting problems with their hearing loss because of concerns over the repercussions on their military service and the military culture. Others don’t even realise that they can bring a claim, or believe a civil claim isn’t available to them because they were turned down by the War Pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Schemes – or that it happened too long ago. These factors may not stop injured military personnel and veterans from bringing a claim for their injuries. It’s important that we educate and support those who have served our country, who have been failed by the system, through lack of training and inadequate kit, to ensure they are aware of their legal rights.”
To find out about your legal rights regarding noise induced hearing loss, visit our military deafness page here.