Exposure to asbestos in 1970s leads to mesothelioma

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Exposure to asbestos in 1970s leads to mesothelioma

18th August 2011

The widow of a Buckinghamshire man who died from an incurable lung cancer caused by work he carried out more than thirty years ago, has received £165,000 in damages.

The woman, in her seventies, took up the fight against her husband’s former employers after he sadly succumbed to mesothelioma - a fatal asbestos-related lung disease - in April 2009, less than two years after he was first diagnosed.

Edmund Young, an industrial disease expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said his client’s late husband was tasked with building and machinery repairs in his 15-year role as a maintenance man for a local printing company from the mid-1970’s.

“As part of his job, he was regularly required to work in the company’s boiler room maintaining and repairing air-compressors and receivers,” said Edmund, an associate with the firm. “There was a great deal of asbestos-lagged piping in the boiler room and whenever any of the steam pipes, air compressors or heating pipes needed repairing, the lagging first had to be removed. Although he was aware the material was asbestos, his employer never informed him that it was dangerous and never provided him with the necessary safety equipment.”

The man first started noticing his health deteriorating decades later in September 2007. After experiencing breathlessness and chest pains which got worse after any physical exertion, he visited his GP and was referred to hospital for radiotherapy treatment and an operation to drain fluid from his lungs. The following month he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.

“Mesothelioma is a horribly cruel and incurable disease caused as a direct result of exposure to asbestos,” said Edmund. “Following his diagnosis we were instructed to pursue a claim for damages against his former employer. However, once his condition was known, he rapidly began to deteriorate, continuing to suffer from acute breathlessness, fatigue and loss of appetite throughout 2008 and up until the point of his death, by which time he had become almost wholly reliant upon his wife and niece to assist him with his care.

“It is tragic that in so many mesothelioma cases the victims were exposed to asbestos at a time when the dangers of the deadly material were already well known to employers,” said Edmund. “Despite this knowledge, workers were seldom issued with protective masks or breathing apparatus. At no point in my client’s husband’s career was extraction equipment used to remove harmful asbestos dust from the air or steps taken to dampen down the dust in an effort to limit its destructive power.

“My client’s husband was a very active person until his illness took hold and deprived him of his ability to look after himself and his family,” added Edmund. “It can often be extremely difficult locating former colleagues but we managed to trace a past employee who had known the victim and was able to verify the details he had provided us with before his death. To be subjected to such distress and suffering through no fault of his own on account of work he did more than thirty years ago is incredibly cruel. It is hoped the damages his family have now received will help them deal with their loss and move on with their lives.”

Edmund Young settled the claim on behalf of the man’s widow for £165,000 in July 2011.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including asbestos-related lung cancer and 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.