Asbestos victim wins legal battle against former employer

Asbestos victim to win possible six figure compensation

15.09.2006

Fifty three year old asbestos victim Arthur Tiffin who was diagnosed last October with lung cancer could win a six-figure sum in damages.

The heating engineer from North Walbottle, Newcastle, has won his case against his former employer who exposed him to asbestos dust and fibres back in the 1970s.

The final settlement has not yet been agreed but lawyers Irwin Mitchell have successfully secured a £40,000 interim payout for him and his family.

Arthur, who is currently taking the equivalent to 40 tablets a day to manage the pain, said: "They've admitted liability and that is what we really wanted. Whatever amount of money I get in the end will be for my family because I can't look after them anymore.

"Before this happened I had a promising and prosperous career. All I want now is for my wife and family to get what I was going to earn and to be cared for."

Cora, Arthur's wife, added: "It doesn't justify what has happened but it is a load off our minds. We would give every penny back if it could make him better.

When Arthur was 17 he started a four-year apprenticeship at Brightside Heating and Ventilation Engineering in Jesmond, Newcastle, now owned by Carillion Singapore Limited.

During this time Arthur was put on a job at Catterick Army Camp working in an old boiler house for a month. Arthur remembered: "I had to strip the boiler of its asbestos insulation. The room was so dusty that it was difficult to breathe. I was constantly coughing and had to remove the asbestos from my nose.

"I was not warned of the dangers of asbestos and had no idea that the dust I was inhaling could have such serious consequences for my future. I am certain this was when I was exposed to asbestos."

When Arthur was diagnosed with the asbestos related illness mesothelioma he initially thought he would have to sell the house to pay for treatment, but instead he turned to Newcastle solicitors Irwin Mitchell to issue legal proceedings against his former employer.

Asbestos victim solicitor comment

Arthur's solicitor, Neil Wilkinson from Irwin Mitchell said: "Arthur's diagnosis of mesothelioma at the age of only 52 has been devastating for him and his family. No amount of money can ever provide adequate compensation, but we are determined to obtain the maximum the law allows.

"After High Court proceedings were commenced his former employers have been forced to accept liability. This means that there is no longer any dispute as to whether they must pay compensation to him, but only as to how much he should receive.

"We expect to secure a sum well into six figures but if this cannot be agreed by negotiation the Court will be asked to make an award. Pending the resolution of the case an interim payment of £40,000 has been obtained for Arthur and his family.

This judgement comes in time for Arthur, father-of- two to see the birth of his first grandchild. Daughter Laura is due to have a daughter in two weeks time and son Steven is expecting his first child in March. Arthur added: "I've got two grandchildren due that I'm looking forward to seeing. It's these little things that lift you and keep you going."

Further good news came recently from St Bart's Hospital in London where Arthur received chemotherapy. His doctors have discovered his tumours in his lungs have shrunk twice, each time by 20%. Arthur now hopes to take part in new Alimta drug trials at Newcastle General Hospital this November.

If you or someone you know has been effected by asbestos, our solicitors can help. Visit our asbestos related diseases section.