Media appeal helps Oldham pensioner win compensation battle

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Media appeal helps Oldham pensioner win compensation battle

30th April 2013

An Oldham pensioner who was exposed to asbestos 50 years ago has received more than £15,000 in compensation after winning his case.

Ken Partridge, 84, appealed to former colleagues from the area to come forward and help in his fight for justice after he developed the debilitating lung condition asbestosis – where inhaled asbestos dust damages the inner lung – because of work he carried out at a mill in the 1960s. And after the appeal was featured in the media, his solicitor was able to secure the evidence needed to settle his claim.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said the former joiner. “I worked at Newroyd Mills from 1963 to 1965, following my service in the Army at the end of the 1940s,” he said. “As soon as I became ill I knew it was because of the work I did there. I distinctly remember one job where the boiler and pipe work was being repaired or replaced, so the team doing that stripped off all the asbestos lagging. Although I wasn’t working directly with them, I was working right next to them and the air was thick with asbestos dust, but we had no breathing protection.

“Of course, back in those days we didn’t know just how dangerous asbestos was.”

Mr Partridge, who lost his wife in March 2009, had no idea the work that he’d carried out back then would lead to his developing asbestosis. “It started with what I thought was a chest infection about four years ago,” said Mr Partridge, who has two grown-up children. “I had a persistent cough, and after my GP referred me for a chest x-ray they told me I had developed pleural plaques – a scarring on the lung which indicates exposure to asbestos fibres – and asbestosis.”

Lesley Mynett, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said that asbestosis is only caused by exposure to substantial amounts of asbestos.

“The lung consists of millions of tiny pockets where oxygen and carbon dioxide are transferred to and from the blood,” she said. “Inhaled asbestos dust that reaches these pockets – called alveoli - can lead to damage that affects the lung’s capacity to oxygenate the blood. This in turn leads to a shortness of breath, which forces the heart to work harder to compensate and which can often lead to heart failure.

“In Mr Partridge’s case, he already suffers from shortness of breath and particularly struggles to walk up any incline or upstairs,” said Miss Mynett (right), a partner with the firm. “He is on daily medication, but his condition is only likely to deteriorate and there is no cure.”

In order to secure the compensation he was entitled to, Mr Partridge made an appeal for his former colleagues to get in touch with Miss Mynett with information that might help him prove he was exposed to asbestos at the mill half a century ago.

“Mr Partridge worked diligently throughout his life, and he developed this illness through no fault of his own,” she said. “Thankfully after our appeal we were contacted by some of Mr Partridge’s co-workers who were able to help us compile sufficient evidence and confirm that asbestos was prevalent in his work environment.”

On the back of that evidence, Lesley was able to negotiate a settlement with Mr Partridge’s former employer’s insurance company.

“I want to thank everyone who helped me over the last few years,” said Mr Partridge, “from the family and friends who supported me to all those who got in touch with Lesley Mynett after the appeal.”

Mr Partridge said he now hoped the compensation victory would allow him to spend more time travelling to see his children overseas, and concentrate on dealing with his condition.

Oldham Chronicle