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Damages settlement for mesothelioma victim's widow
The widow of a London man who died from a fatal lung cancer after he was exposed to asbestos more than 30 years ago, has received £182,500 in damages in an out of court settlement.
Edmund Young, an industrial disease expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said his client’s late husband, who was in his 70s when he died, had been employed as a ballet shoe maker at a factory in North London from 1967 until the early 1980s.
“His job involved applying asbestos paste to the toe-ends of ballet shoes,” said Edmund. “Each day he would sit at a workbench with a bucket of asbestos powder mixed with water to make a paste. He would apply this by hand to the toe-ends which would then be dried, shaped and stitched into the fabric of the ballet shoes.
“When it came to making the paste each day he would tip the asbestos powder from a cement bag into his bucket,” said Edmund. “This would always release a plume of asbestos dust into the room in which he worked alongside six of his colleagues, who would also make their own pastes using exactly the same method.
“My client said her husband remembered it being very dusty in the factory,” continued Edmund. “There were no air ducts or any kind of ventilation or extraction system in place and no-one was ever issued with any kind of protective breathing equipment or warned about the dangers asbestos posed to their health.”
In late 2007, the woman’s husband began dramatically losing weight and started to notice the first problems with his breathing. In October the following year he was admitted to hospital unable to breathe and after a number of tests and an operation to drain a build-up of fluid from his lungs he was given a biopsy which confirmed he had mesothelioma.
“Mesothelioma is a horribly painful terminal cancer caused as a direct result of exposure to asbestos,” said Edmund. “Symptoms typically appear decades after first being exposed to the deadly material and following diagnosis of the disease, the health of victims sadly tends to deteriorate rapidly - often within months.”
For the next four months, the victim lived at home with his wife who had become his full-time carer. Relying on portable oxygen to breathe, he continued to lose weight until he was unable to get out of bed unaided. He then remained bed-bound at home and required continuous care until his death in hospital in March 2009.
“My client is understandably heartbroken at losing her husband who she had to see suffer in the months leading up to his death,” said Edmund. “Her husband was denied a future simply because his employers failed to protect him from a material which was widely known to be extremely hazardous to health. Although no amount of money can possibly help to alleviate her pain, the settlement she has now received may hopefully provide some comfort as she tries to move on with her life.”
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