Irwin Mitchell’s specialist industrial disease team settled a case on behalf of Mrs D’s husband, who died suddenly and unexpectedly in April 2009. He had been admitted to hospital for elective bowel surgery but during the course of his hospital admission his condition deteriorated and it was discovered that he unfortunately had a malignant mesothelioma of the pleura.
He died only a few days after being admitted to hospital for bowel surgery. Mr D’s death was referred to the Coroner who advised Mrs D a few days later that her husband’s death was due to malignant mesothelioma which was most likely caused by asbestos exposure.
She took advice from an asbestos support group who referred her to a particular firm of solicitors. Mrs D was aware that her husband may have been exposed to asbestos when working as an engineer in the Merchant Navy and when working as a hospital engineer. However, there was no evidence from Mr D or former work colleagues to support a claim.
The first firm of solicitors that Mrs D consulted was unable to obtain any supportive witness evidence to show the extent of Mr D’s asbestos exposure when working as an engineer. Little progress was made by the previous solicitors over a period of 2 years. Mrs D was about to give up her search for justice following her husband’s sad and sudden death when a friend and former work colleague suggested that she seek advice from Irwin Mitchell who she had heard specialised in asbestos disease claims.
Mrs D contacted Irwin Mitchell in June 2011. We arranged for transfer of the file of papers from the previous firm of solicitors and we then urgently followed up all lines of enquiry with a view to proving, on the balance of probabilities, that Mr D had been negligently exposed to asbestos dust and fibres when working as an engineer with 2 shipping lines in the Merchant Navy, and when working as a hospital engineer at Halifax General Hospital. The asbestos exposure was in the 1950’s, 1960’s and the 1970’s.
Our specialist team was successful in tracing a friend of Mr D who had also served in the Merchant Navy at a similar time, albeit on different ships and for different shipping companies to Mr D but he gave supportive and detailed witness evidence to confirm the likely extent of Mr D’s asbestos exposure when working on board ships as an engineer in the ship’s engine room.
Our legal experts were also successful in tracing an electrician who worked at the Halifax General Hospital a few years after Mr D. He did not know Mr D personally but was able to give evidence about the conditions and likely contact with asbestos materials when working in the basement underneath the hospital where the workshops for maintenance engineers, electricians, plumbers and so on were located.
With this supportive witness evidence we were able to commence court proceedings against Mr D’s former employers/their successors before the 3rd anniversary of Mr D’s death (the required time period in which court proceedings must be commenced). It was not an easy task to trace the shipping companies that Mr D had worked for as many of the shipping companies are no longer in existence.
Soon after court proceedings were commenced we were able to successfully conclude the claim against the shipping companies and the hospital authority for a six figure sum for the benefit of Mrs D and Mr D’s estate.
Mr D was a much loved husband, father and grandfather. Whilst the compensation recovered can never fully compensate for Mr D’s suffering and his family’s loss, it will go some way to supporting his children and grandchildren in the future.
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