Media appeal helps Coventry family win asbestos compensation battle

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Media appeal helps Coventry family win asbestos compensation battle

13th August 2013

The family of a Coventry man who died after he was exposed to asbestos decades ago has received £90,000 in compensation - thanks to his former colleagues who responded to a media appeal.

Frank Parker, of Oxendon Way, Ernesford Grange, was 73 when he died in June 2011, just over 18 months after he was diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma. Although he was advised by his nurses to speak to solicitors before his death, Mr Parker succumbed to his illness before he was able to take action against his former employers.

But shortly after his death, Mr Parker’s son Graham and daughter-in-law Adrienne took up his fight for justice against those responsible for exposing him to asbestos. And after their appeal was featured in regional media in September last year, their solicitor was able to secure the evidence needed to settle the claim for compensation in Mr Parker’s name.

“We’re obviously delighted,” said Mrs Parker, of Binley, who looked after her father-in-law throughout his illness. “No amount of money will ever bring Frank back to us, or make up for the pain and suffering he endured for the final months of his life,” she said. “But the fact that we’ve been able to take a stand against his employers, who needlessly exposed Frank and workers like him to asbestos, brings us a sense of justice and might also inspire others in a similar situation to not let employers get away with it.”

Mr Parker had trained as an electrician from leaving school in the early 50s, joining a local firm as an apprentice and where he continued to work after his National Service. In 1974 he joined Massey Ferguson, where he worked until he retired in 1990 to care for his wife Shirley-Ann, who died from a lengthy illness in 1993.

During his 16 years there, Mr Parker would be part of the team carrying out maintenance during the factory’s regular shutdowns each year, where he would undertake rewiring work in the roof area alongside plumbers and engineers who were carrying out repairs to pipe work.

Lesley Mynett, a specialist industrial disease lawyer with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said that this work would involve removing old asbestos lagging and carrying out maintenance, before the pipes would then be re-lagged, making the air thick with asbestos dust and fibres.

Mesothelioma is a particularly cruel and insidious disease that can take many years to develop after being exposed to asbestos,” said Miss Mynett. “The length of time between exposure and manifestation of symptoms often leads to problems in proving a case, and because Mr Parker sadly died before he was able to tell us about all the times he had worked with asbestos over the years, we were reliant on his former colleagues to provide the information his family needed to win their fight. Thankfully, the response to our appeal was incredible.

“I was contacted by people who remembered not just being exposed to asbestos at Massey Ferguson around the same time Mr Parker was working there, but also by other electricians who had actually worked alongside him,” said Miss Mynett, a partner with the firm. “I have never known an appeal to generate so much helpful information, and I was immediately able to use these witness accounts to help settle the claim on behalf of Mr Parker’s family.

“Mr Parker paid an enormous price for working dutifully,” she said. “Thanks to the help of his former colleagues, we have been able to hold those responsible to account and win some justice for the family he has left behind."

Media coverage - BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire, Coventry Telegraph