Former Shoe Shop Worker Fights For Justice Following Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Expert Lawyers Seeking Justice For Ex-Lewis’s Worker Exposed To Asbestos During 1970’s Store Renovation

07.08.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

A former shoe shop worker coming to terms with the devastating news she is suffering from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, has joined forces with industrial disease lawyers to appeal for her ex-work colleagues to help investigate why she was exposed to the deadly dust.

Marie McGregor (nee Burke), of Bolton in Lancashire, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2012 after a series of tests and scans at the Royal Bolton Hospital. Marie first started to show symptoms of the debilitating disease in May 2012 when she began feeling breathless. Her condition deteriorated further on a family holiday to Madeira in June, when she was left confined to her bed and unable to walk long distances.

Industrial illness experts at Irwin Mitchell representing the 58-year old believes her illness was caused by exposure to asbestos while working for the British Shoe Corporation in their retail section on the first floor at Lewis’s department store in Liverpool city centre.

Marie began working for British Shoe Corporation at the age of 15 and recalls coming into contact with asbestos dust and fibres when renovation work was carried out on Lewis’s to relocate the store's escalators in the mid 1970’s.

Marie, who is currently undergoing a course of chemotherapy, said: “The section I worked on was about ten feet away from where the work on the escalators was being carried out. It was very dusty and work took place during the day while the shop was open to the public. The area was not cordoned off to protect customers and staff from the harmful dust.

“Throughout the day, I dusted the glass shelves where the shoes were displayed because the asbestos had settled on them. The display shoes were also covered in a white layer of dust, which I had to remove to avoid customers being put off by dirty products. I would brush the dust with a cloth into my hand, which I would then empty into the bin. I couldn’t help but breathe it in.

“I left the British Shoe Corporation over 25 years ago, so to be diagnosed with mesothelioma was a complete shock to me and up until May last year, I had always been fit and well. I was heartbroken to learn the condition is incurable and it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that this has been caused by exposure to asbestos so long ago.

“The illness has had a massive impact on my life and I can no longer do the things I used to. I struggle to sleep because I’m in pain and find it difficult to get comfortable. My husband Callum now has to do all the chores I used to do, as well as drive me to all of my medical appointments.”

Charlotte Hobday, an industrial illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office representing her, said: “We believe Marie was exposed to asbestos while working at for the British Show Corporation, based at Lewis’s in Liverpool, where it appears unsafe working conditions were caused by renovation work.

“Mesothelioma has no known cure and the symptoms can only be treated temporarily, leaving Marie and her family in a terribly sad situation, which has been caused through no fault of her own. The dangers of working around the substance were known well before her exposure but employers did not do enough to protect employees from its harmful effects.

“We are keen to speak to anybody who worked on the renovation project at Lewis’s in the mid-1970s, particularly those who were involved in the moving of the escalator into the centre of the shop.

“We are also asking anyone who worked for the British Shoe Corporation at Lewis’s between 1970 and 1985 to contact us to help with our investigation so that we can help Marie get the justice she deserves and to help her provide some financial security for her family.”

Anybody with information should contact Charlotte Hobday at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office on 0370 1500 100 or by email on Charlotte.Hobday@irwinmitchell.com.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Mesothelioma claims.