The widow of a mesothelioma sufferer has received compensation against his former employer, Aston University. Mr H worked for Aston University as a porter at the Defendant’s premises at the James Gracie Conference Centre, Birmingham from 1990 – 2000.
Mr H was responsible for various duties which included daily attendances on the University's boiler houses at Wake Green Road, Moseley, Birmingham. Mr H attended two boiler houses at the James Gracie Conference Centre on a daily basis which involved him in switching on and off the boilers and checking the temperature and water gauges. The central heating boilers in the boiler houses together with the pipework were lagged with asbestos lagging and had become old and deteriorated. During these activities Mr H accidentally disturbed the asbestos insulation, causing him to breathe in asbestos dust and fibres in unprotected conditions. Mr H continued to be exposed to asbestos dust and fibres on a daily basis up until the Conference Centre was closed down in 1998. At no stage was Mr H or other employees warned about the dangers of asbestos or provided with any form of respiratory protection.
Mr H started to become breathless in 2006 and noticed significant weight loss. He also noticed a pain in his left abdomen. He also lost his appetite and suffered from night sweats. After extensive enquiries and investigations, Mr H was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 4 June 2007. Very sadly, Mr H passed away on 6 August 2007.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors were instructed shortly before Mr H’s death in August 2007 and his widow, Mrs H, took up her late husband’s right of action after his death.
Mr H had a complicated employment history which involved potential exposure to asbestos at other employments including asbestos contaminated vermiculite with a well known insulation firm, William Kenyon & Sons Limited. Extensive enquiries and investigations were carried out into his potential exposure to asbestos contaminated vermiculite at William Kenyon, however, proceedings were formally issued against Aston University in July 2010. Aston University strongly contested liability and alleged that Mr H would not have come into contact with asbestos. Irwin Mitchell Solicitors obtained an asbestos survey report of the boiler houses located at the Defendant’s premises at Wake Green Road, Moseley, Birmingham. The report confirmed the presence of asbestos insulated boilers and pipework throughout the boiler houses of the premises. Supportive witness evidence was obtained from Mr H’s ex-work colleagues regarding his exposure to asbestos. Despite Aston University’s stance on liability, a negotiated settlement was reached in December 2010 prior to a Court trial.
Ronan Hynes, Solicitor from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, acted on behalf of Mrs H who said:-
“After more than three years of trying to obtain justice for the late Mr H, I am very pleased that we have managed to obtain compensation on behalf of Mrs H. This case highlights the importance of health and safety in the work place and it is not acceptable for employers to expose their employees to asbestos dust and fibres in this day and age. However, it is important to keep in mind that compensation is merely a consolation. Mrs H has lost her husband, partner and companion of many years”.
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