Our mesothelioma solicitors secured a six figure settlement for the widow of a former gas engineer who died of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at work.
Our client, Mr Johnson*, started the claim on his own but after he passed away, his wife continued it on his behalf. Mr Johnson left school at 15 and began working as a welder for Lines Bros Ltd. Here, he used an asbestos blanket every day as part of his job. The blankets were used to protect materials that had already been welded together from any exposed flames.
Mr Johnson recalled that these blankets were very fibrous and that asbestos dust would gather in the air whenever they were handled. Even when Mr Johnson was not handling his own blanket, he was still exposed to asbestos fibres because all the welders worked so close together.
The welders at Lines Bros Ltd wore goggles as they worked, but no other protective clothing or equipment was provided. There were also no extraction fans inside the workshop. This meant that when the welders swept their workstations at the end of the day, it stirred the asbestos dust back up into the air.
Some years later, Mr Johnson had a change of career and took up work as a carpenter. He started working for Valkins Shuttering Contractors Limited, spending most of his working hours working on new housing developments.
As this was during the 1960s, asbestos regulations had not yet come into effect as most people were still unaware of the dangers it posed. This meant that the houses Mr Johnson was working on all contained asbestos.
It was asbestos sheets in particular that Mr Johnson handled while working at Valkins. These sheets were used on overhanging ceilings and eaves, and measured 6ft by 4ft when they arrived at site. Mr Johnson would cut them to size using a handsaw, and this process created a large amount of asbestos dust. So much, in fact, that Mr Johnson could recall the taste of it in his mouth and said there was ‘no way of avoiding it’.
Asbestos dust and fibres even gathered in the staff canteen, as none of the carpenters were given protective clothing or equipment to stop the fibres clinging to their workwear. Mr Johnson later said that he and his colleagues went about their work ‘naively’ without ‘any concern for health or safety’.
From 1969 to 1971, Mr Johnson worked for ‘an enormous company’ called Humphreys & Glasgow Limited. Here, his job was to replace appliances powered by gas from coal with appliances powered by natural (North Sea) he found himself short of work, he would also get involved with installing the North Sea gas appliances. During the two years Mr Johnson spent working for Humphreys & Glasgow Limited, he came into contact with asbestos dust each and every day.
The company provided its workers with boiler suits, but Mr Johnson and his colleagues were not given gloves or face masks, meaning they still inhaled the asbestos fumes. Again, no one told Mr Johnson about the dangers associated with asbestos.
Many years later, in November 2017, Mr Johnson developed a cough and went to see his GP. He had an x-ray that showed fluid at the bottom of his left lung and had a biopsy on it, but it was inconclusive. At the time, he was told he could still go on holiday over the Christmas period, considering he was still fit and active. On the 8th of January 2018, Mr Johnson learned that he had mesothelioma, a diagnosis he was ‘shocked’ by.
Mr Johnson opted for chemotherapy as a way to treat the mesothelioma, but sadly suffered badly with side effects. Before the chemotherapy, his mesothelioma symptoms were limited to night sweats, but after his treatment Mr Johnson experienced nausea, aches and pains, often to the point that he couldn’t get out of bed.
Mr Johnson also found that he couldn’t do many of the jobs he was used to doing around the house, such as DIY and maintaining his garden. He and his wife instead had to pay for the services of a gardener.
As a result, he chose to have a pleurectomy decortication operation, an invasive procedure used to treat mesothelioma. Sadly, Mr Johnson passed away shortly after having the operation, leaving his wife to continue the claim on his behalf.
We brought the claim for Mr Johnson’s illness and subsequent death against the three companies that had exposed him to asbestos. Both Lines Bros and Valkins Limited denied responsibility, saying that the exposure happened when asbestos was not known to be a dangerous substance. However, Humphreys & Glasgow Limited admitted liability and made a substantial payment to Mr Johnson’s widow, so the case didn’t need to go to court.
Case handler Laura Wilkinson commented “We were glad to have secured an interim payment for Mrs Johnson, not least so that she did not have to suffer the stress of a court trial. While nothing can bring back her husband, the settlement will ensure that her and her family are comfortable for years to come”.
If you or someone you love has been affected by an asbestos related disease, we may be able to help you claim compensation. Call us on 0808 271 3411 to learn more about your options, or send us an email and we’ll call you back. You can also find out more by visiting our Asbestos Claims page.
*Name has been changed.
Back to Client Stories