Widow of expat wins husbandís fight for mesothelioma compensation

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Widow of expat wins husbandís fight for mesothelioma compensation

2nd July 2013

The widow of an expat who died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during his work in the UK, has received £138,000 in compensation.

The former engineer, who was in his 70s, had begun his claim for compensation shortly after his diagnosis, but sadly succumbed to his illness very quickly. His widow then continued his fight for justice, to hold to account those responsible for his death.

Lesley Mynett, a specialist industrial disease lawyer with Fentons Solicitors, said that this was the latest in a growing number of cases involving British expatriates.

“The responsibility of companies who have failed to ensure the safety of their workforce doesn’t end just because a person has decided to move abroad,” said Lesley. “The law holds employers liable if workers are exposed to asbestos throughout their period of employment, and so even if – as in this case – the victim now lives overseas, it is still entirely appropriate and just to make a claim for compensation.”

Lesley, a partner with the firm, said the man and his wife had moved to Spain after retiring. “My client told me that he had never had any physical problems until he first noticed some symptoms in the spring of 2010,” she said. “He began suffering shortness of breath and some tightness and pain in his chest. Shortly afterwards he was sent for an x-ray at his local hospital in Spain, which showed fluid had collected in his lung.

“He was admitted to hospital for more than a week to have his lung drained, and was then referred for further tests. These revealed he had developed mesothelioma, a cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos.”

As soon as he had been diagnosed he contacted Lesley, who set about securing evidence from her client’s former colleagues to prove his asbestos exposure. She also arranged for him to receive the benefits he was entitled to from the UK as a result of his diagnosed condition.

“As my client lived in Spain, he did not have the availability of any advice in respect of these benefits,” she said. “Whilst clients diagnosed in this country are commonly advised about both the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and a payment under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979, the Spanish system makes no such provision for this, so we immediately helped and advised him with his applications.”

Lesley said that as is often the case with mesothelioma the illness was quite aggressive, and despite undergoing several treatments of chemotherapy, her client sadly lost his fight against the disease just four months later.

“He had told me how he was first exposed to asbestos when he spent the 1960s working as at a Midlands copper mill,” said Lesley. “Then again throughout the next three decades, when he spent almost 30 years working at a manufacturing plant, also in the Birmingham area.

“This firm was involved in making the frames and the dyes for glass casting for various vehicles,” she said. “Before his death, my client told me that his job entailed physically pulling dyes into the furnace. These furnaces were lagged with asbestos and there would be large amounts of dust in the air. He described the furnace room as ‘extremely noisy and extremely dusty’.”

Lesley was able to secure further evidence in the form of statements from her client’s former colleagues, which confirmed both the prevalence of asbestos and the exposure he faced during his time there.

“Even though he lived abroad when he was diagnosed, we were still able to successfully pursue his claim because the exposure happened whilst he was working in the UK,” she said. “Following my client’s death, his wife took up the fight on his behalf, we negotiated with the defendants and successfully settled the claim for £138,000.”

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

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.