Widow Of Department Store Worker Seeks Justice For Asbestos Death

Appeal For Former Colleagues' Help


The wife of a former department store salesman who recently died after a long battle with an asbestos-related lung cancer is appealing for her husband’s former colleagues to come forward and help with an investigation into his death.

Martin Stones, from Ossett, in West Yorkshire, died aged 55 on 2 January 2011, three years after being diagnosed with the terminal lung cancer mesothelioma – which often occurs as a result of exposure to asbestos.

Mr Stones was exposed to asbestos while working as a furniture salesman at Schofields Department Store, on the Headrow in Leeds city centre, between 1981 and 1985.

Work-related illness experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell are now investigating conditions at Schofields on behalf of Mr Stones’ family, and are looking for former employees at the store to help provide information.

Mr Stones’ widow, Karen, said: “We were absolutely devastated when we heard that Martin had mesothelioma. We were so fortunate that we still had three years to spend together and as a family, but at the same time it was just heartbreaking to witness Martin suffering for so long.

“You expect to be protected from something as dangerous and toxic as asbestos, yet Martin was never provided with a facemask or warned that inhaling dust and fibres emitted from asbestos could lead to lung cancer. 

“He went through every possible treatment and suffered so much, and to know there is nothing you can do to help is just gut-wrenching. It makes you feel angry and helpless.

“If anyone has any information on Schofields, no matter how small or insignificant they think it might be, I urge them to come forward and contact Irwin Mitchell.”
Mrs Stones is appealing for information from former employees of Schofields who believe they may also have been exposed to asbestos with the company or can recall asbestos being present in the two buildings that former the Department Store occupied.

Ben Mitchell, a solicitor in Irwin Mitchell’s workplace illness team, said: “Mesothelioma is a devastating form of cancer and sadly it is incurable. Unfortunately, as the disease has such a long incubation period, from when someone first ingests asbestos dust to when the disease first surfaces, and in turn the subsequent legal claim is made against their past employers, this can cause significant problems. 

“As the onset of the condition can take 20 – 30 years or longer, the company may no longer be trading at the time, with the premises closed down and the work force moved on.  This is very much the case here, as the building occupied by the store was demolished in 1987, and as a result finding witnesses can be extremely difficult.

“If anybody thinks they may be able to help I ask them to please contact me immediately.”

Anyone who is able to help should contact Ben Mitchell at ben.mitchell@irwinmitchell.com or on 0113 394 6751.