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Mesothelioma victim's partner receives £150,000 compensation
A Cheshire woman whose partner died just seven months after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, has received £150,000 in damages.
Simon Alexander, a specialist industrial disease lawyer with Fentons, part of Slater & Gordon, said that he had met the retired engineer shortly after he was diagnosed in 2011 and had been able to continue the claim on behalf of his partner following his death.
“As is common with mesothelioma, the health of my client deteriorated rapidly following his diagnosis, and he succumbed to his illness just a few months later,” said Simon. “Fortunately he had given me a detailed statement already, and so I was able to continue the fight he had already started.”
Simon said that the man, who was in his 60s, had spent two decades of his working life at a chemical works manufacturing tetraethyl lead, commonly referred to as TEL. “For 15 years of his time there, he worked in a large open plan area which contained 13 huge TEL distillation ‘kettles’,” said Simon. “Each of these was about 10 feet deep and 8 feet across with a motor inside, and he would operate this equipment and put additives into the kettles.”
Simon said that the floor and ceiling of the kettle area were concrete, and pipes ran across the ceiling. “My client told me that these pipes varied in size but most were quite wide, around one foot across,” said Simon. “Because some of the pipes supplied steam to the kettles and other pipes were part of the heating for the building, a lot of them were insulated with asbestos lagging.”
Simon said that his client explained how the lagging was in quite a poor state of repair. “He said there were sections of the lagging that were missing and broken up, and he described being able to see the exposed pipes in certain areas,” he said.
“He said a lot of this damage was caused by the fitters who were required to repair and maintain the distillation kettles on a weekly basis. There would usually have been a group of three fitters, sometimes more, and he saw them standing on top of the kettles to throw chains over the lagged pipe work for the block and tackle.
“For instance,” said Simon, “when it was sometimes necessary to change or refurbish the motor inside the kettles, the fitters would need the block and tackle to lift the motor out and replace it. My client said he saw the chains they used dig into the asbestos lagging, breaking it up and sending asbestos dust into the air.”
Simon said his client also described how repairs to the pipe work would mean more disrupting of the asbestos lagging. “Nobody explained the dangers of asbestos, and there was no safety equipment such as protective breathing masks or clothing to prevent the dust from being inhaled,” said Simon. “Even when the asbestos lagging was being removed and replaced with a safer alternative during the late 1980s – throwing up yet more deadly dust in the process - my client and his colleagues continued to work in this environment. It was this negligence on the part of his employers that would ultimately cost my client his life.”
After returning from a holiday with his partner, the man first developed a pain in the side of his chest. When antibiotics failed to clear up the pain, he was sent for x-rays and then further tests which revealed the shattering diagnosis.
“My client lost a lot of weight and his health deteriorated rapidly,” said Simon. “Unfortunately his condition was quite aggressive and he died just a few months later. However, because we had his full statement I was able to continue to pursue the case on behalf of his partner.
“Nevertheless the employer’s insurer denied liability for more than a year, prolonging the distress of my client’s partner,” he said. “When they finally offered to settle the claim in full for £150,000, we accepted.
“All this man did was work diligently throughout his career, and through no fault of his own he suffered a painful and premature death. Although no amount of money can compensate his partner for the loss of her loved one, his wish was that through pursuing his claim he would ensure her future financial security.”
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.
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