Legal victory for asbestos victimís family

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Legal victory for asbestos victimís family

11th February 2011

The family of a Suffolk war veteran, who developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos whilst working as a prison guard, has been awarded a six figure sum in compensation.

The man, who was in his 80s, was diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma in November 2009. The former wireless operator and air gunner - who served throughout the Second World War - had begun a claim for compensation following his diagnosis, but died just three months later.

Following their tragic loss, the man's wife and two sons continued his fight for justice. One of the man's children said his father had worked hard all his life, and following his demob from the RAF Coastal Command had found a job with the Singapore Harbour Police.

"When my father returned to England he began working for Her Majesty's Prison Service," he said. "He worked as a prison officer at Hollesley Bay open borstal in Suffolk for many years, before moving to a borstal in Yorkshire in the 1970s in order to take promotion. He returned to Hollesley Bay Colony as Principal Officer for the remainder of his 31-year career with the service," he said. "When dad finished his service he was awarded the Imperial Service Medal".

Hollesley Bay was built in the 1930s, initially to accommodate the unemployed from London, later becoming a penal institute. "During my father's time there, there was a lot of building work undertaken," he said. "Dad remembered many of the buildings having corrugated asbestos roofing, and described a dusty atmosphere whenever they were demolished and new buildings were put up.

"As part of his job, he would also supervise groups of the boys as they carried out maintenance work across the whole site," he said.

The dust created by the ongoing building and maintenance work contained deadly asbestos fibres, which lodged in his lungs and many years later led to him developing the painful cancer mesothelioma.

"My father's symptoms started with a persistent cough in August 2009," he said. "This was particularly noticeable during the bank holiday weekend when we were enjoying a family break in Norwich. He was always extremely fit and active - he was a keen footballer in his youth and could have turned professional had he not volunteered for service - so when the cough persisted we knew something wasn't right.

"He visited his GP in September and was prescribed some tablets for the cough," he said. "But it soon became apparent the tablets were not working and that the cough was getting worse."

In November 2009, the family was told he had mesothelioma, a disease for which there is no cure, and he was advised he had six months to live.

"Dad found his work with young offenders very rewarding," said the victim's son. "It is particularly ironic that he contracted mesothelioma doing the job he loved."

Lesley Mynett, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, took on the case. "It can take many years after exposure to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent, and the cruel nature of this disease means that a diagnosis is usually quickly followed by debilitating illness," said Lesley.

"The asbestos dust this man was exposed to in and around the borstal led to this terrible disease," she said, "causing undue pain and suffering to both himself, and to his loved ones.

"All he did was work diligently throughout his life, and he ended up contracting this most awful of illnesses," said Lesley. "No amount of money can make up for losing a loving and beloved husband and father in such a way, but by succeeding in pursuing his claim for compensation, we have finally held those responsible to account."

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

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.