Pipe joiner’s widow receives mesothelioma settlement

How can we help you?

Your enquiry will be reviewed with no obligation.

Pipe joiner’s widow receives mesothelioma settlement

20th October 2014

The widow of a pipe joiner who died from mesothelioma as a result of work he did more than 40 years ago has received £133,000 in an out of court settlement.

Lesley Francois, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said her client took up the fight against her husband’s former employers following his death in February 2012.

“In November 2011, my client’s husband, who was in his 80s and from Essex, began suffering severe chest pains and breathlessness,” said Lesley, a solicitor with the firm. “After visiting his GP he was referred to hospital where scans revealed he had a large amount of fluid in his lungs. Following a number of tests as well two operations to drain his chest, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma shortly before he died.”

Throughout the 1960s the husband was employed as a pipe joiner for a construction company which laid gas pipes all over London. Part of his job involved mixing asbestos powder with water to make a thick paste which he would then mould by hand and use to seal the joints of the three-feet-wide gas pipes. This method of sealing pipes produced a large amount of asbestos dust and was widely used up until asbestos rope was introduced as a substitute.

“When my client’s husband began using asbestos rope it was stored on reels which were kept inside onsite wooden huts,” said Lesley. “After using a hacksaw to cut the rope to size he would then fit it into and around the pipe joints using a chisel. Just as he used to experience when making asbestos paste, each time he sawed at the rope he would inadvertently inhale some of the asbestos fibres that were released into the air around him.”

Throughout his time working as a pipe joiner, the man was never warned about the dangers of working with asbestos and at no time was he ever offered any kind of protective mask or respiratory equipment.

“As well as being a keen gardener, my client’s husband was extremely house proud and even after his diagnosis he still wanted to tend to his garden and ensure that his house looked as nice as possible,” said Lesley. “When he returned home from his chest drain operation however, his breathing difficulties quickly progressed to the extent that he wasn’t even able to climb the stairs to his bedroom. Sadly, his symptoms continued to deteriorate up until his subsequent death just two months later.

“Unfortunately it can take up to 50 years following exposure to asbestos before any asbestos-related disease symptoms become apparent,” said Lesley. “This can often make finding insurers as well as former colleagues who can verify what working conditions were like at the time, extremely difficult. As is so often the case with the majority of the asbestos-related claims we deal with; once a client has been diagnosed with a disease as unpleasant and aggressive as mesothelioma, their health typically deteriorates very rapidly. This can obviously be incredibly distressing for both victims and their families.”

After liability was admitted, Lesley settled the claim on behalf of her client for £133,000 in September 2013.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including mesothelioma and asbestosis.

If you think you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.