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12 August 2015
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.
Settlement value: £110,000
What happened: The woman, who was in her 60s, sadly died from mesothelioma 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.
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.
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. When he returned from work, he would have a bath whilst his wife and daughter would hand-wash his overalls. 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.
Impact: 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. 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 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. 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 woman’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 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.
Decision: After liability was admitted, Slater and Gordon's Industrial Disease Solicitors settled the claim on behalf of the woman’s family for £110,000, including more than £29,000 in interim payments.
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