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Five-figure Settlement for Family of Clay Worker Killed By Industrial Disease

Our specialist workplace illness solicitors have secured a five-figure sum for the family of a former clay dryer who died from a rare lung disease contracted at work.

Walter Patton, from St Austell, had worked for English Clays Lovering Pochin & Company (ECLP) in the 1950s and 1960s. He was employed at the company’s Methrose Dryers and Blackpool Dryers sites as a clay dryer and labourer.

Walter died in 2013 and an inquest into his death found that he had passed away as a result of kaolin pneumoconiosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in clay dust.

His son, Brian, also worked for ECLP in the 1970s and 1980s. He recalled the working conditions at the company: “I remember visiting Dad at work when I was a child and seeing him covered head to toe in dust. There were certainly no face masks or protective equipment to prevent him from breathing it in.”

Brian got in touch with our industrial disease lawyers and asked us to investigate Walter’s exposure to clay dust at work. We secured a £52,500 settlement from his employers, now known as Imerys Minerals, as compensation for Walter’s illness and untimely death.

“It is incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that he died as a result of an illness he developed as a result of going to work every day and doing his best to look after the family,” said Brian.

“Securing a settlement is a huge relief, but our biggest hope is that lessons are learned from Dad’s story so that no one else ever faces the same issues again. We are also hugely thankful to everyone who helped with the witness appeal, as that information was vital to us getting the justice we feel we deserved.”

Alex Shorey is a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell who worked on Walter’s case. He said:

“This case highlights the terrible impact that exposure to clay dust over a number of years can have on workers, particularly when employers fail to provide adequate protective equipment.

“Following our instruction from Brian, we undertook a range of investigations and also launched an appeal for witnesses to help us gain more information regarding the conditions that Walter would have faced during his work. A number of witnesses came forward including workers who had worked alongside and could remember Walter. The information they provided was crucial to this claim in order to piece together the system of work and the way in which Walter’s exposure to clay dust occurred.

“While nothing will ever change what Walter and his loved ones have had to face, we hope that this settlement will at least provide some comfort to the family and also act as an important reminder of the need to ensure workers are always protected from harm.”

If you or a loved one has developed an illness due to poor working conditions or insufficient protective equipment, our team may be able to help you make an industrial disease claim. Contact us online or call 0370 1500 100 for more information.

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