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Pipe fitter's widow secures mesothelioma damages
The widow of a Cambridge man who died from a fatal lung disease after being exposed to asbestos through his work in the 1960s has received £115,000 in an out of court settlement.
Industrial disease specialist Edmund Young said the woman in her 70s took up the fight against her husband’s former employers following his death from mesothelioma in January 2010, less than two years after he first started noticing his health was deteriorating.
“Mesothelioma is a particularly painful asbestos-related terminal lung cancer which can remain dormant in the body for up to 60 years following a victim’s exposure to asbestos,” said Edmund, an associate with Fentons Solicitors LLP. “My client’s husband’s initial symptoms included shortness of breath and fatigue. He then developed terrible pains in his right side and after being referred by his GP for a biopsy, he was diagnosed with the disease in 2008.”
By the following year, the father-of-one, who was also in his 70s, was unable to eat any solid food, he had lost a significant amount of weight and he was in so much pain that he was unable to sleep at night. Continuing to suffer from breathlessness, chest pains, fatigue and loss of appetite, he eventually became completely incapacitated before his death the following year.
“Throughout the 1960s, my client’s husband was employed as a pipe-fitter and welder working at various sites across London,” said Edmund. “His job involved working within old boiler houses and plant rooms stripping away asbestos lagging from old pipes so that they could be replaced.
“My client used to hand wash her husband’s boiler suit and clothes as he would come home covered from head to toe in asbestos dust,” he added. “When she asked him how he managed to get so dirty he would say it was because the asbestos dust produced from chipping away at the lagging would get everywhere settling in his clothes and hair.”
A former colleague of the man described how workers would mix the deadly material in 50 gallon drums mere feet away from the pipe-fitters. This would cause huge plumes of asbestos dust in confined areas that were entirely unventilated.
“Whenever anyone blew their nose it was immediately apparent how much toxic dust each man was inadvertently inhaling - the dust was everywhere,” said Edmund. “Despite having to work within the confined spaces of boiler rooms, tunnels and air ducts - where the air was so thick with clearly visible dust particles - at no point did his employers warn him of the dangers asbestos posed to his health or provide him with any kind of protective clothing, face masks or respiratory equipment to ensure his safety.”
Edmund said his client brought a claim against two defendants who were responsible for her husband’s asbestos exposure during the time they employed him. “Both defendants initially denied liability for the terrible illness my client’s husband had to endure as a result of their negligence,” said Edmund.
“The employers failed to offer my client’s husband adequate protection from asbestos or provide him with any form of warning as to the kind of danger he was exposed to,” added Edmund. “As a result, he tragically died of this most terrible of diseases but not before knowledge of his condition and its inevitable prognosis caused a significant amount of shock and distress to both him and his family.”
Edmund Young settled the claim on behalf of the man’s widow for £115,000 in February 2012.
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