Landmark Legal Ruling Against Ministry Of Defence

Posted on: November 24th, 2016

Royal Courts of Justice rules in favour of Marine who contracted Q Fever in Afghanistan.

Marine Phillip Eaglesham has today won a lengthy legal battle against the Ministry of Defence (MoD), after suffering a life changing disability as a result of contracting Q Fever while serving in Afghanistan.

Represented by Coffin Mew, Mr Eaglesham’s victory comes after the MoD’s defence was struck out by the Court for persistently failing to comply with its obligations to provide copies of all documents relevant to the case – despite being granted an additional 15 months to compile the materials.

The case will now succeed in full, without a defence from the Ministry. The only issue still to be decided is the amount of compensation that Mr Eaglesham is entitled to; a figure that is expected to run into many millions.

Mr Eaglesham contracted Q Fever while on a routine tour of South Afghanistan in 2010. He initially became ill with flu-like symptoms, but went on to develop Q Fever Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – an illness which has left him profoundly disabled.

Once a fit and active Royal Marine, Mr Eaglesham is now forced to use a wheelchair to move and is dependent on care from others. Five years ago, he could still walk about and struggle through a shower by himself, but he has continued to deteriorate so that this is now impossible. Sometimes he no longer has the strength to stick two pieces of Lego together when playing with his children, and he even struggles to have the energy to chew food.

After Mr Eaglesham became ill he started to research Q Fever. It was then that he realised the Ministry of Defence should have known it was present in Southern Afghanistan before he fell ill, that it posed a serious risk to troops and that the MoD should, and could, have prevented his illness and similar illness in others.

Mr Eaglesham argues he should have been given doxycycline antibiotics, which are effective against Q Fever, either as soon as he fell ill or as anti-malarial medication given that it protects against both malaria and Q Fever. This drug was being used by the US and French military at the time.

Sue Bowler, Partner at Coffin Mew, who is acting for Mr Eaglesham commented: “We are delighted that the Court has ruled in our favour. Phillip’s case against the Ministry of Defence has been pursued so that he can pay for the specialist care, equipment and housing that he will need for the rest of his life – and to help other military personnel who contracted the same illness in Afghanistan and are also pursuing claims.

“Phillip has gone from being a strong fit Royal Marine to someone with very severe disability, all because of contracting Q Fever. It has never been about the money for him, no amount could take away his suffering and that of his family.”

Mr Eaglesham has suffered not just from the physical impact of his illness, but mentally too, with the mental torment of his new life leading to severe depression.

He showed remarkable determination and strength of character to represent Team Ireland at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, and is now focussing on achieving justice for himself and other servicemen and women who have fallen ill through Q Fever.

With a number of similar cases being brought against the Ministry of Defence, Mr Eaglesham’s case proves an encouraging landmark victory.

Sue Bowler heads up Coffin Mew’s Personal Injury team.  If you would like further information, please get in touch on 023 9238 8021 or email suebowler@coffinmew.co.uk.