Widow Of Former Birmingham Council Worker Appeals For Help In Asbestos Investigation

Specialist Industrial Disease Lawyers Instructed To Help Seek Justice

08.10.2014

The widow of a former Birmingham Council worker is appealing to his former colleagues to come forward with vital information as she launches a battle for justice after he died from an asbestos-related cancer.

John Gardner, from Willenhall, West Midlands died aged 69 on 16 February 2012 after a three year battle with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer which is caused by exposure to harmful asbestos dust and fibres decades ago.

His wife, Patricia, 69 instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate John’s former employers to see whether more could have been done to protect him from the dangerous dust.

John started an apprenticeship in painting and decorating at O’Malley and Palgrave, in Small Heath between 1957 and 1963. During his time at this company, his work involved painting but also lagging pipes and he recalls working at the BSA factory in Small Heath.

For a few years between 1966 and 1969 John worked for Birmingham Council’s Housing Department where he was responsible for refurbishing a number of council flats and houses. Before he passed away, John recalled that he worked textured paper and artexed ceilings when refurbishing houses, where asbestos would be used, but he was not provided with any protective equipment.

Expert Opinion
We hope that John’s former colleagues will be able to come forward with any information about the conditions at this company where he worked during his career as a painter and decorator so we can gather evidence to see whether more could have been done by his employers to protect him from the deadly dust.

“Mesothelioma takes decades to develop after the exposure to asbestos but it is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress to victims and their families as a result of simply not being given appropriate protection.

“The dangers and risks from exposure to asbestos dust were known by companies from at least the 1950s yet all too often we see workers and their families who have been left devastated decades later because they were not given the correct safety equipment to protect them from exposure.”
Iain Shoolbred, Associate

The father-of-three had a bad asthma attack in October 2008 and was sent for a CT scan which revealed he had developed pleural thickening, but he was told that this was no cause for concern.

Over the next few months, the grandfather-of-seven and great-grandfather of one continued to struggle with breathing difficulties and went back to his GP for further tests and then a biopsy in February 2009 and John was diagnosed with mesothelioma. 

He underwent four courses of chemotherapy and his condition remained stable until February 2012 when he was admitted to New Cross Hospital. He died a week later on 16 February.

Patricia said: “Our whole family was devastated after John passed away. Throughout his illness he coped very well and remained active until the last few months of his life when the illness really took its toll on him.

“He rapidly declined and even though we all knew of his diagnosis it still was a shock to see him suffer like he did. I hope that this appeal will raise awareness so that anyone who knew or worked with John will come forward to help us seek justice in his memory. To think that the reason he got this terrible disease is simply because he was tirelessly working all his life is shocking.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at either O’Malley and Palgrave or Birmingham City Council are asked to contact Iain Shoolbred at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office on 0121 214 5446 or email iain.shoolbred@irwinmitchell.com.

For more information on claiming please visit our pleural thickening compensation page.