A retired electrician who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos whilst working on RAF bases has received £195,000 in compensation.
The man – who is in his 60s – developed the cancer as a result of the work he carried out for various different companies over a period of more than 50 years. When he fell ill in 2011. Slater and Gordon Personal Injury Lawyer took on the case.
“My client had taken early retirement and was planning to move house when he first became ill,” said his Lawyer. “He had been feeling run down for about a year before developing an ache in the back of his shoulder which didn’t go away.
“Then one day he went into the kitchen to get a glass of water and began to feel light-headed, as though he was going to black out. The next thing he remembered was waking up on the floor.”
His Lawyer said that after visiting his doctor, the man was referred for x-rays and tests and within just a matter of weeks had been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
“My client had left school at 15 and trained as an electrician, and then spent the rest of his career working in the field,” said his Lawyer. “The majority of his work was on RAF bases in and around East Anglia, and he had been exposed to asbestos whilst carrying out maintenance work all over the bases. For example his work in the boiler houses involved stripping out and refurbishing electrical cables – cables which were usually housed in the same areas where asbestos had been used to insulate pipes.
“He told me how every day whilst working he would be crawling through tunnels with asbestos–lagged pipes right next to him,” she said. “Although he was involved only in electrical work, he was working alongside other tradesmen who had been called in to work on the bases as part of ongoing maintenance or refurbishment programmes.
“He described how these other workers would pull down asbestos lagging whilst he was working alongside them and then apply further lagging.
“In particular he remembered working on one new project which was a flight simulator building,” said his Lawyer. “Other workers were spraying metal girders with asbestos insulation whilst he was working in the same building and dust particles covered everything. He was not given any protective equipment or any warning about what was going on.”
His Lawyer said although her client worked predominantly on the same bases, he did so for a number of different employers. “As the symptoms of mesothelioma can take such a long time to manifest – most cases develop many years if not decades after exposure to asbestos – the difficulty often lies in tracing a liable company,” she explained. “Fortunately we were able to locate two of the companies my client had worked for that were still trading, and we were quickly able to negotiate a settlement.
“Mesothelioma is a particularly cruel and insidious disease, for which there is no cure,” she said. “Although no amount of money can make up for what my client is now going through, this settlement means he can concentrate on dealing with his illness without worrying about his family’s future financial security.”
The family of a woman who was unwittingly exposed to asbestos as a child whilst washing her father’s work overalls has received £110,000 in an out of court settlement.
The London woman, who was in her 60s, sadly died from mesothelioma in August last year, just four months after starting her claim against her late father’s former employers and more than 40 years after she was first exposed to asbestos.
Peter Olszewski, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represented the woman’s family after her death, said that from the early 1930s up until the mid 1970s, the woman’s father had worked as a pipe-lagger at a south London power station.
“His job involved mixing asbestos powder with water to form a lagging paste which he would then apply to pipework within the power station,” said Peter. “Unfortunately, there were no showers or laundry facilities on site which meant that everyday he would come home with his overalls covered in asbestos dust.
“As a young girl, the woman was extremely close to her father and would often meet him at the end of his shift and walk him home,” he added. “She specifically remembered how dirty his overalls were each day and how much dust there would always be on his hands, face and hair. When they got home, he would stay in his asbestos-covered overalls to eat his dinner while she would sit in his lap cuddling him as he ate.
“After he had finished eating, the woman’s father would have his bath while his wife and daughter would hand-wash his dirty overalls in an annex off the kitchen,” said Peter. “After first shaking off as much dust from his overalls as possible, they would then scrub them against a corrugated washboard before putting them out in the garden to dry. As she grew older the woman began washing her father’s overalls herself and she continued to do so every night up until her father retired from his job in 1971.”
In the late 1980s, the woman’s father became extremely ill and was diagnosed with Asbestosis. In the months leading up to his subsequent death he was looked after at home by his daughter.
“In October 2011, the woman started suffering chest pains, coughing and breathlessness when she attended an exercise class with a friend,” said Peter. “After seeing her doctor, she underwent a number of tests which revealed a build-up of fluid in her lungs. Following two operations to drain the fluid from her chest a biopsy in November 2011 confirmed she was suffering with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.
“Knowledge of her condition came as a huge shock and proved incredibly distressing to her and her family,” he added. “Although she knew asbestos was harmful due to her father’s illness and subsequent death from Asbestosis she never thought she was at risk as she had never worked with the material herself.
Over the next few months despite undergoing both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the claimant’s health deteriorated rapidly and she continued to suffer with increasing breathlessness, chest pains and weight loss. “In the months leading up to her death in August last year she was extremely ill and because she was bedridden and in considerable pain she relied entirely on the care and support of her husband and family for help with all her day-to-day needs.
“Mesothelioma is an extremely painful and debilitating illness and although no amount of money can possibly hope to compensate the family for the tragic loss of a loving mother and wife, it is hoped that the settlement they have now received will help as they continue to move on with their lives.”
After liability was admitted, Peter settled the claim on behalf of the woman’s family for £110,000, including more than £29,000 in interim payments, in July 2013.
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