Family Of Shropshire Man Receives Compensation For His Death From Asbestos Exposure

Compensation for asbestos exposure leading to mesothelioma

26.02.2009

The family of a Telford man has received more than £130,000 compensation following his death from mesothelioma.

Norman Perry was employed as a carpenter and joiner by Salopian Building Company from 1964, rising to the position of foreman after 1972. He worked exclusively at the Ministry of Defence ordinance depot in Donnington where has was exposed to asbestos while undertaking repair work.

His duties called for him to remove and dispose of old asbestos roof sheets and replace them with new sheets which he cut to size with an electric saw and drilled to allow fitting. He was also required to replace old asbestos guttering with new.

His long-term partner, Mrs Joyce Reynolds, recalls: "Even after he was made up to a foreman he was still exposed to asbestos while supervising and assisting the workers on site."

Mr Perry’s exposure dramatically increased following a fire at the Ministry of Defence site in 1982, which led to asbestos dust spreading throughout the camp and the surrounding locale.  He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2006 and died aged 70 just 6 months later. 

Iain Shoolbred, a mesothelioma solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell handled Mr Perry’s Claim. Speaking at his Birmingham offices, Iain said: "The claim was robustly fought by Salopian Building Company, but it admitted negligently exposing Norman Perry to asbestos after Court proceedings were issued.  The insurers for the company have now agreed to pay Mr Perry’s family in excess of £130,000 in settlement of his claim."

The family members greatly appreciated the admission by the company that it had been negligent. 

"This was the most important part of the process for us,” concludes Mrs Reynolds.  “No amount of money can make up for Norman’s tragic and untimely death, but the admission by Salopian Building Company made us feel we had achieved justice for him."

This year alone, 2,000 people in Britain – on average one person every five hours - will die from this fatal disease for which there is no cure.  This figure is growing every year and is not set to peak until at least 2015. Mesothelioma is a cancer almost always caused by inhaling asbestos fibres.

Asbestos, a heat resistant substance, was commonly used in the building trade and as a lagging for pipes during the 1950s through to the 1980s. Many victims were unaware at the time that they had been exposed to the lethal fibres and because the period between exposure to asbestos and developing mesothelioma can be between 20 and 40 years, it is often difficult to prove where exposure took place.

2009 marks the fourth annual Action Mesothelioma Day organised by the British Lung Foundation, which is campaigning for better care and treatment, improved protection for employees and more funding for research.

Amongst those whose lives have been claimed by the disease is Hollywood legend, Steve McQueen, who died in 1980, aged 50, from malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. It is believed that McQueen contracted the disease after being exposed to asbestos fibres whilst working on ship repairs during his youth.

‘Action Mesothelioma Day’, which takes place on Friday 27th February, is campaigning for better care and treatment, improved protection for employees and more funding for research. Ceremonies, where candles will be lit in memory of mesothelioma victims, will take place in many U.K. cities on Monday.

This year alone, 2,000 people in Britain – on average one person every five hours - will die from this fatal disease for which there is no cure.  This figure is growing every year and is not set to peak until at least 2015

Even in the 1920s, companies knew that asbestos was harmful to the workforce and yet failed to warn or protect their employees. Iain Shoolbred now wants to see the creation of an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB), which would give workers protection similar to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which funds road users hit by uninsured drivers.

Speaking ahead of Action Mesothelioma Day, Iain insists that the creation of an ELIB would be of enormous benefit as the UK looks to cope with an estimated annual Mesothelioma-related death rate of 2,450 people by 2015.

Iain explains: "With all Mesothelioma claims, time is of the essence – it is a fatal and vicious disease that usually kills its victims within 12 months. The ELIB would provide a vital last-resort in those cases where an insurer cannot be traced.

"We want to see adequate protection put in place for people whose only crime was breathing the air around them. Society expects people to work – yet workers are not protected as much as motorists in this respect.

"Thousands of people in the UK who spent their lives working incredibly hard have now been stricken by Mesothelioma and the death rate is set to increase further over the next decade."