£110,000 award for pensioner after asbestos led to mesothelioma

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£110,000 award for pensioner after asbestos led to mesothelioma

2nd December 2009

A pensioner from Ilford has received more than £110,000 in compensation after developing a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos at work.

Bert Scammell, 79, was shocked when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year, as he had previously enjoyed a fit and healthy life.

"It was in the summer of 2008 when I began to feel breathless and generally unwell," said Mr Scammell. "I visited my GP who referred me to the King George Hospital where they arranged an x-ray, and I was admitted for some fluid to be drained from my chest. My consultant found a little further fluid on my lung and I was transferred to St Bart's Hospital in London."

Mr Scammell, who lives in Ilford with his wife Audrey and one of his sons, said a biopsy was arranged and some lung tissue was taken for analysis.

"In January I was diagnosed with mesothelioma," he said. "I was referred to a cancer specialist and undertook three sessions of radiotherapy. Audrey took care of me at home after each of my hospital visits."

Mesothelioma is a painful cancer usually caused by exposure to asbestos fibres. But Mr Scammell was unsure of how - if ever - his work had led him to come into contact with the substance known as "the silent killer."

"I did my National Service in the RAF for 18 months between November 1948 and May 1950," said Mr Scammell. "I met Audrey when I came home from my National Service, and my first job after that was with a chemical production company. But I was sure I hadn't been exposed to asbestos there," he said.

"In 1958, I took a job with the Plessey Company Limited, in Ley Road, Ilford," said Mr Scammell. "There was one short period when I left for about six months, but the new job wasn't for me and I went back to Plesseys. Altogether I was there for more than 25 years."

Lesley Mynett, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said Mr Scammell's first role with Plesseys primarily involved issuing tools and materials to the workforce.

"One of these materials was an 'asbestos-replacement' product," said Ms Mynett. "It was introduced as an alternative to using asbestos, and Mr Scammell - and many others using it at the time - believed it to be harmless. Unfortunately, the product was up to 50 per cent asbestos, and so he was being exposed on a daily basis without any knowledge."

She said Mr Scammell would cut sheets of the substance at the request of the machinists, and his workspace would be littered with off-cuts of the material.

"It would be delivered in large sheets and his job would be to cut those sheets to fit drawings he'd been supplied with," said Ms Mynett. "Working in a small, confined room, he would do this using a handheld hacksaw. This would produce a significant amount of dust, and Mr Scammell was not provided with any safety mask," she said.

Mr Scammell moved to the audit department in the company's new Vicarage Lane premises in the late 1960s, but by that time the damage had been done.

"It can take many years after exposure to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent," said Ms Mynett. "In Mr Scammell's case it has taken four decades, but now we have been able to settle his claim for £110,000 without the need for a trial, he and his wife can begin to move on with their lives."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial illness and asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.