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Mesothelioma victimís stories help family secure compensation
The family of a man who died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos have won their fight for justice thanks to the stories their elderly father told them of his time at sea.
Bridget Collier, head of the industrial disease†department at Fentons Solicitors LLP, negotiated a £70,000 settlement on behalf of the estate of the 81-year-old victim, after she was contacted by his daughter following his death.
“My client got in touch because her father told her she may want to pursue a claim for compensation once he had passed,” said Bridget, a partner with the firm. “He had kept his illness secret for as long as he could so as not to upset the family, and as the case only came to us after he had died we were unable to get first-hand information about how and when he was exposed to asbestos.”
But the elderly victim had told numerous stories to his family about the time he spent working on the Canberra passenger liner for P&O in the early 1970s, sailing to exotic locations such as Hong Kong and New Zealand.
“Although he had trained as a painter before his National Service, and continued that career afterwards, he had spent a period working aboard the famous cruise liner,” said Bridget. “Family members recalled the numerous stories they had been told about his time at sea, and as we began to piece it all together a picture emerged which explained how he had been exposed to the asbestos which led to his illness.”
Mesothelioma is a painful, incurable cancer which affects the lungs, and is almost exclusively caused by workers coming into contact with asbestos. “In order to pursue a claim for compensation on behalf of a victim or their estate, we have to be able to demonstrate that they were exposed to asbestos in the course of carrying out their job,” said Bridget. “Because his work records showed that he had been employed as a night watchman, P&O did not accept that he was exposed to asbestos on the Canberra.
“But whilst he had officially joined the crew as a night watchman, crucially he had told family members and his home help carer that he changed jobs once they had set sail,” said Bridget. “He was finding working nights too difficult, particularly trying to sleep through the day in his cabin, and so he switched to maintenance work in the boiler room.
“He had told them details of the hours he would spend working with the pipes and boilers of the engines as they made their lengthy journey around the world, and it was these stories that proved vital to the case.
“The various pieces of information that the victim had told his family about his work in the boiler room enabled us to prove his exposure to asbestos at that time, and so we submitted this to the defendants,” said Bridget. “We were than able to successfully negotiate a settlement of £70,000 on behalf of his estate.”
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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