Widow’s appeal for help in fight for justice

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Widow’s appeal for help in fight for justice

22nd July 2009

The widow of a Wednesbury man who died from asbestos-related cancer is appealing to her husband's former colleagues to help in her fight for justice.

Robert William John Taylor, 77, of Westbury Road, died in November last year from mesothelioma, a painful cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos. From the 1940s through to the 1960s, Mr Taylor - who was known as John - held various jobs with a haulage firm, a chemical plant and a carriage works in the West Midlands.

Although he was forced to cut his career short and take early retirement in 1969 due to severe epilepsy, Mr Taylor's earlier exposure to asbestos at one or more of these jobs had already caused damage which would ultimately lead to his death.

"He began to suffer from a shortness of breath in October 2007," said his widow, Jean. "By the following May he was really struggling and went for a chest x-ray. It was then that we knew something wasn't right, and in the first week of July we found out that it was mesothelioma," she said. "John died less than six months later."

Now Mrs Taylor, 72, is hoping friends and former colleagues of her late husband will be able to help in her and her children's fight for compensation.

"John was unable to work for years because of his epilepsy," she said. "But what killed him was the work that he had done more than 40 years ago. Over the course of two decades, he had clearly been exposed to asbestos in at least one of his jobs.

"This was before we knew that it was harmful, of course, but by the time that became public knowledge, John hadn't worked with it for years," she said.

An inquest in April this year confirmed that Mr Taylor had died from an industrial disease, but the solicitor handling Mrs Taylor's claim says she now urgently needs to find witnesses who can help confirm the details of the case.

Lesley Mynett, an industrial disease specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: "It takes many years after exposure to asbestos before any related disease becomes apparent, which can make finding witnesses and information about the employer very difficult.

"While we know Mr Taylor worked for a number of companies in the area, we are having difficulty finding evidence due to the fact that his last job was 40 years ago."

She said Mr Taylor worked as a wood-machinist at Smethwick Carriage Works from around 1949 to the mid 1950s, where it is believed asbestos was liberally used on a daily basis.

"He then worked as a distributor, loading and unloading vehicles for Storage & Haulage Ltd, based in Birmingham," said Ms Mynett. "He worked there until 1965, later taking a job as a chemical mixer with Robinson Bros Ltd in West Bromwich before his retirement in 1969.

"Unless we can prove that he was exposed to asbestos, Mrs Taylor may go uncompensated for the fact that she has lost her husband to this dreadful illness," she said.

How can you help?
If you remember working alongside Robert "John" Taylor, if you can verify he worked for the firms named above, or think you can help in any way, please call Lesley Mynett on 0844 854 3096 or e-mail lesley.mynett@fentons.co.uk.