Justice Secured For Former Engineer’s Family After Asbestos Death

£5,000 Donated To Marie Curie Hospice In Bradford Which Cared For Him


The widow of former Huddersfield maintenance engineer who died from mesothelioma is speaking out to thank his former colleagues for coming forward with vital information about the presence of asbestos at his former employer to help them secure justice for the family.

John Devine, from Baildon, in West Yorkshire, died just two months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-related cancer affecting the lining of the lungs which he believed was as a result of exposure to harmful dust and fibres four decades ago.

The father-of-two started to experience symptoms in 2012, when he was still working as a Production Technician at Sulzer. He found it difficult to carry out his job and struggled to do simple tasks such as climbing a ladder. He went to his local GP and was referred to Bradford Royal Infirmary in December for an x-ray and tests and in February 2013, he was diagnosed with the terminal condition mesothelioma.

His widow Patricia instructed industrial disease experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate where he was exposed to asbestos after a successful witness appeal where his former work colleagues came forward with vital information about the presence of asbestos at James Robinson & Co and Hopkinsons Valves and they have now agreed an undisclosed settlement for John’s family.

Irwin Mitchell also recovered the costs of the care John received at the end of his fight with mesothelioma at Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford and Mrs Devine also matched this amount with funds from the settlement. 

Expert Opinion
“Despite much of John’s work often being in confined spaces he was never warned about the dangers of asbestos or given a facemask to protect him from the dust generated.
“Nothing can bring John back but hopefully the settlement will give the family some sense of justice and provide them with the security he would have provided had he not become ill.

“Sadly, although the effects of exposure to the material were well known, many employers did not do enough to protect their workers and the victims and their families are paying the price years later.

“We are pleased to have also been able to recover the costs of his care at Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford. The hospice relies on charity donations to meet more than 75 per cent of its costs so the funds we were able to recover for the care John received in his four months are crucial.”
Nicola Handley, Solicitor

John left school and went to work for James Robinson & Co, in Huddersfield from 1964 to 1970 as an apprentice fitter. He later worked at Hopkinsons Valves from 1973 to 1974 to undertake maintenance work. 

Before he died, John, 64, recalled that whilst he was employed at James Robinson & Co he was responsible for routine maintenance which involved stripping asbestos lagging from the pipework and boilers. He also recalled being exposed to asbestos whilst working at Hopkinsons Valves.

Patricia, 65, who was married to John for over 35 years and has four grandchildren, said: “We are really grateful to all John’s colleagues who came forward to help with the appeal and help our legal team at Irwin Mitchell gather vital information about the presence of asbestos at James Robinson & Co and Hopkinsons Valves.

“John’s condition deteriorated rapidly over the months after his diagnosis and he had to spend a week in a hospice because he was in so much pain and needed constant care from the nurses. It was heartbreaking to see him suffer; and as a family we felt helpless.

“John was still working at the time of his diagnosis and we were both looking forward to spending our retirement years together. I am still trying to come to terms with his death and the fact that we will not be growing old together as we had planned.

“It has been incredibly difficult for the entire family to come to terms with the fact that John was exposed to asbestos decades ago simply by going to work. When his illness kicked in it was so rapid that we barely had time to digest what was happening.”

Elaine Hill, Hospice Manager at Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford, said: “At the Hospice we offer specialist care for people living with a terminal illness and support for families, completely free of charge. Some of the people we care for stay at the hospice, while others come in for the day to attend our clinics or support sessions.

“It costs over £3.6m a year to run the Bradford Hospice and we rely heavily on support from individuals, local groups and businesses to fund the vital services we provide. We would like to say a huge thank you to the family of John Devine for this extremely generous donation which will enable us to continue to be there for people in the Bradford area who are living with any terminal illness, and their families.”