Compensation victory for family of asbestos widow

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Compensation victory for family of asbestos widow

19th May 2011

The family of a widow who died more than fifty years after first being exposed to asbestos when washing her husband's work overalls, has received just under £100,000 in compensation.

The woman, who was in her eighties, died from mesothelioma nearly two decades after her husband also succumbed to an asbestos-related lung disease.

Edmund Young, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, represented the family. "The woman's husband - who, for over thirty years, was employed as a pipe-fitter tasked with repairing pipes that had been lagged with asbestos - died as a result of his exposure to asbestos," he said.

"When he was diagnosed with lung cancer over twenty years ago, doctors asked about his previous work history and in particular whether he had ever been exposed to asbestos. He sadly died before he was able to progress a claim against his former employer."

However Edmund explained that the couple's daughter clearly remembered him coming home from work each day wearing dirty overalls, covered with asbestos-laden dirt and dust. "His wife would wash his overalls by hand every week, using a wringer that was kept in the kitchen," he said.

Then, almost twenty years after her husband's death, the widow herself began suffering from breathing problems. "Throughout her career working in a department store she was never exposed to asbestos, yet she began suffering from shortness of breath whenever she had to use stairs or climb an incline," said Edmund, an associate with the firm.

"She started suffering from increasing breathlessness and anxiety. After undergoing various tests at hospital, a chest x-ray revealed fluid and thickening in her lungs and she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She had become very anxious and tearful and believed she was dying from a fatal condition just like her husband. She was having terrible trouble with her breathing, she had become progressively weaker and it was very obvious her condition was deteriorating.

"As her condition worsened, she suffered significant weight loss and continued to struggle with her breathing and sleeping," said Edmund. "She required increasing care and relied on assistance from her daughter and family members.

"Knowledge of her condition and prognosis - bearing in mind that her husband had also died as a result of asbestos exposure nearly twenty years previously - proved very distressing to both her and her family," added Edmund.

"Those working with asbestos must be able to operate in properly ventilated areas whilst wearing the appropriate protective clothing and respiratory equipment to minimise any risk of exposure," said Edmund. "My client's father was denied these rights and died as a result of the asbestos he had been exposed to. His wife in turn developed this horrible disease through no fault of her own. All she did was clean her husband's work clothes, but as a result she was condemned to share the same terrible asbestos-related fate as her husband."

In March 2011, Edmund Young negotiated an out of court settlement on behalf of his client's mother's estate for just under £100,000.

"No amount of money can make up for losing a parent to an asbestos-related disease, but to lose both to such a cruel and painful illness is just unimaginable," said Edmund. "Hopefully by succeeding in pursuing this claim for compensation, my client's family can finally begin the difficult process of moving on with their lives."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including 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.