North East Man Wins Battle For Justice After Asbestos Exposure

Specialist Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Secure Six-Figure Settlement After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

23.04.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

A Darlington man left devastated after being diagnosed with a terminal asbestos-related cancer has won his battle for justice after specialist asbestos lawyers secured a six-figure settlement from his former employers.

Lawrence Coles, 58, of Newton Aycliffe, was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer Mesothelioma in January 2011 after first suffering chest problems in 2005. He has now had two courses of chemotherapy to ease the symptoms and says he is ‘hugely relieved’ to have won his battle for justice after a court ruled his former employers were responsible for his exposure the deadly dust.

Specialist asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office secured a final settlement having obtained a judgement and interim payments against Shlumberger Flow Measurement Ltd (formerly Smart and Browns) and the North East Strategic Health Authority which will now enable Laurence to pay for care to ease his suffering and provide financial security for his family.

At Smart and Browns in Spennymoor he was exposed to asbestos from 1967 to 1969 as dust was scattered over his workbench from lagging on pipes when new production lines were added in their factory.

Although he didn't know it was asbestos at the time, the court found from his description and the timing, that it would have been and that he was exposed to a significant amount of dust, which he would have to brush off his work bench in order to do his job.

Laurence was a night porter at Aycliffe Hospital in Darlington, from around 1976 to 1985, where he was exposed to asbestos while accompanying engineers repairing asbestos lagging on heating pipes.

Isobel Lovett, an associate solicitor and industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, representing him said: “The court has ruled that during his employment Mr Coles was exposed to asbestos dust at both Aycliffe Hospital and the Smart and Brown factory.

“As a result of Mr Coles’ illness he now faces incredible discomfort and increased care needs. The settlement will provide financial security for his family and will enable him to pay for care to improve his quality of life as he suffers from mesothelioma.

“Employers knew the risks associated with asbestos but yet did not do enough to protect Mr Coles from the deadly dust. Sadly he is now paying the price of his employers’ negligence decades ago. It is only right that those people affected by exposure to asbestos through no fault of their own are entitled to justice from their former employers.”

As a result of his illness, Mr Coles now struggles to walk the short journey from his home into town without stopping to catch his breath – the walk used to take him only five minutes. Mr Coles has undergone chemotherapy to help manage his condition, which has left him with no sense of taste and little appetite.

Mr Coles added: “I couldn’t believe it when I received my diagnosis – my family and I were completely distraught.

“When boiler rooms and heating pipes in underground tunnels were being repaired I had to accompany workers who would disturb the asbestos lagging, and it was such a confined space that you couldn’t help but breath the dust in and it used to get all over my clothes.

“Also at the factory there would be dust all over the benches while we were working but I was never warned about asbestos during either jobs and I was never given any protective equipment or masks.

“I’m just so relieved that my battle for justice is now over and I have some comfort in the knowledge that my family will be provided for in future. Mesothelioma is a horrible and extremely unpleasant illness for both myself and my family and it is only right that those business which exposed people to the material with no warnings or protection are brought to justice.”

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.