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In 1959 Rodney Glover left school and got his first job with a local Peterborough firm, Henry J Firman Limited. He was taken on as an apprentice carpenter and joiner and was based initially in the joiners' workshop.
Part of Rodney's job required him to unload deliveries of asbestos sheets and then cut the sheets into strips on the circular saw. It was so dusty cutting the sheets that Rodney told us the workshop would slowly fill up with dust so that it was like trying to work in a thick fog and they would have to stop, open the windows and doors and wait for the dust to clear before starting again.
Firman's had a lot of large contracts to build houses and schools in the area and asbestos sheeting was used to fit roof soffits, gutterings and down pipes so Rodney would be regularly cutting up asbestos whilst out on site too. He was never told that asbestos was dangerous and he was never given a mask to wear.
In June 2004 Rodney started to get some chest pain. By August he had developed a cough that wouldn't go away. The doctors found that he had got some fluid on his lung but after numerous tests he was told that he didn’t have cancer. His symptoms continued and the treatment he received wasn't improving these.
Further tests ensued and in January 2006 Rodney was ultimately diagnosed with Mesothelioma. He was told this had been caused by his earlier exposure to asbestos some 40 years ago. Rodney's health deteriorated over the following months and sadly, he passed away on 21 August 2006, leaving behind his wife and two daughters.
Rodney had asked Irwin Mitchell to investigate a claim against his former employer, Henry J Firman Limited and we had agreed to help. When he passed away, his wife decided to continue with the case. Henry J Firman Limited was no longer in business, having stopped trading in 1971 and so we began what turned out to be a long and arduous search for the company's liability insurer. If no insurer could be found, there would be no one to pay any compensation for Rodney's demise.
Our initial searches produced no result and we appealed to the public for information via the local press. A gentleman came forward who provided some information but this wasn't sufficient to launch a claim against the company and the insurer concerned. We made further enquiries of former colleagues, searched the local library archives, traced three of the former directors and the company's former accountant and eventually collated sufficient evidence to start court proceedings. Half way through the court case, an insurance policy was found and the case settled, almost immediately thereafter, for a six-figure sum.
Rodney's widow Mrs Glover said: “Rodney was exposed to substantial quantities of asbestos dust in the workshop, he said it was like working in thick fog. No one ever warned of the dangers of working with asbestos and never provided any proper respiratory protection."
Helen Ashton, from the Sheffield office of national law firm Irwin Mitchell, who represented Mrs Glover, explained: “Mesothelioma used to be considered an ‘old person’s disease’, however it is increasingly claiming the lives of younger victims, Mr Glover is a clear example of this. This came as a terrible shock to Mr Glover and his family."
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