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Settlement For Widow Following Husband's Fatal Mesothelioma

Irwin Mitchell’s industrial disease experts managed to secure £215,000 in compensation after a man died of mesothelioma.

Asbestos Exposure

Our client developed the condition after being exposed to asbestos throughout his working life. Whilst working as a labourer and electrician for the National Coal Board, between 1963 and 1968, there were numerous occasions in which our client came into contact with the substance. He noted the presence of asbestos lagging on boilers and pipe work which he had to stand on to carry out his work, thereby disturbing the asbestos. Our client also handled hessian sacks of asbestos which was used to lag the boilers and pipe work and he handled asbestos tape, two to three times a week, which was used to stop electric sparks. 

Whilst working for a manufacturing company, Mono Containers Ltd, our client was in close proximity to asbestos because it was within the isotopes wrapped around parts of the extruder he used every day. The firm also used asbestos wool as packing. 

Between 1982 and 1997, our client worked for Durham County Council’s waste disposal unit. Asbestos was often in the waste but he said that staff couldn’t always see it before coming into contact with it. He remembers that the team were given masks for protection but these were not always appropriate to wear whilst working. 

Diagnosis Of Mesothelioma

Our client started to experience symptoms of breathlessness in 2010 and began to lose weight. During 2012 he suffered a couple of chest infections and eventually underwent a biopsy in March 2013 which confirmed he was suffering from mesothelioma. Our client was told there was no cure for his mesothelioma but he could try chemotherapy to help. He underwent three courses of the treatment but stopped due to back and chest pain as well as weight loss and generally feeling unwell.

Following the chemotherapy, our client had five radiotherapy sessions and he felt that these slowed the cancer down for a while. However, in January 2014, our client was told the cancer had spread to his bones after an MRI scan. He underwent more radiotherapy despite being told there was only a five per cent chance of pain relief. This did not work.

Day-to-day life had become a major struggle for our client; he had to take over 30 tablets a day and found it hard to swallow this medication. He had been prescribed morphine because he had excessive back and shoulder pain. Our client also lost four stone and was having difficulty eating. He suffered with mobility problems; he could barely get upstairs to bed. MacMillan nurses provided our client with a bath-seat, a commode and a pressure-relieving mattress. 

Battle For Justice

Our team investigated the case and obtained evidence from a Consultant Physician and a care expert detailing the client’s past and future care needs. We issued the case in the Royal Courts of Justice on 24 January 2014 but sadly, our client passed away in April 2014, before the first hearing. The claim was halted whilst the proceedings were amended and the client’s widow made arrangements to take over conduct of the case.

The first hearing took place in October 2014 and the widow received an interim payment of £50,000. A date was set for the final hearing but two weeks before the set date, 29 January 2015, a settlement was reached of £215,000.

Isobel Lovett, an associate solicitor in our asbestos related claims team, supported the client throughout proceedings. She said: “Throughout his career, there was a complete lack of consideration when it came to safeguarding the health of employees.

“This is a desperately sad case; our client really struggled towards the end of his life with extreme pain and suffering. I hope that the successful outcome of the case has provided our client’s widow and family with some financial security and a sense of justice.”

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