Compensation victory for plumber exposed to asbestos

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Compensation victory for plumber exposed to asbestos

7th April 2011

A pensioner who developed cancer because he was exposed to asbestos during his work as a plumber in the 1950s has received £117,000 in an out of court settlement.

The man, now in his 80s, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2010, and immediately sought the advice of specialist industrial disease lawyer Simon Alexander, of Fentons Solicitors LLP.

"My client had worked until his retirement, and had been in reasonably good health until May last year," said Simon. "He developed a persistent cough, and began to struggle to catch his breath. When his symptoms failed to improve, he went to see his GP."

Simon said the doctor referred his client for an x-ray, which led to him being sent for an urgent scan and tests which revealed he had developed the asbestos-related cancer.

"He had worked as a plumber his entire life, with the exception of two years of National Service in the early 1950s," said Simon. "After leaving school aged 14 he completed a seven-year apprenticeship and spent every day of his working life mending and fixing pipes and boilers. It was during a job in the mid-50s that he was exposed to asbestos."

Simon explained that during his time with a Lancashire-based firm, the plumber would undertake work in commercial properties. "He removed the old heating systems and installed a new system," said Simon. "This involved repairing heating and steam pipes, which were lagged with asbestos. He would use a hammer to break away sections of the lagging to access the leaking or corroded pipes. He described how the pipes would often be above his head and so the asbestos would fall into his face."

Once the repair had been completed, the plumber would re-lag the pipe by mixing brown coloured cement and asbestos based powder with water and apply the mix to the pipe by hand.

"The powder came in cement type paper bags and he described how when opening them and emptying the powder into buckets, a lot of dust was produced which he couldn't help but breathe in," said Simon.

"After the job had been completed, he would sweep up any waste using a dustpan and brush and put it into rubbish bags which were left to the side. Again, this would create dust which my client and his colleagues would then breathe in."

Simon said that his client was never told that asbestos was dangerous to his health, nor did he wear a face mask whilst carrying out his work.

"Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, one which can lead to the victim's health deteriorating rapidly," said Simon. "Despite the time that had passed since my client was exposed to asbestos during his work, we were able to quickly identify the insurer of the firm he had been working for. This meant that we were immediately able to discuss the matter of liability and enter into negotiations," he said.

"I'm delighted that in just a matter of months we were able to reach a settlement of £117,000 which will ensure that my client and his family can face their future without the added concerns of financial worries."

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

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.