Mesothelioma Lung Disease
A Gateshead man battling the deadly lung disease Mesothelioma has won his fight for justice against his former employers who routinely exposed him to asbestos.
Wilfrid Craig says his life was 'torn apart' when he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in December 2008, after suffering a persistent cough and loss of breath that summer.
He suffers severe breathlessness and chest pains and is in a hospice where his pain is managed with Morphine – he turned 64 earlier this month and is not expected to reach his 65th birthday.
He has now been awarded a substantial settlement after he was regularly exposed to asbestos dust during his joiner's apprenticeship at George Wimpey & Co from April 1962 to March 1968. He was never issued any respiratory protection.
Following his diagnosis, Mr Craig instructed Roger Maddocks, an industrial illness specialist and partner at Irwin Mitchell, to pursue a claim against Carillion Construction Ltd – the successors of George Wimpey & Co.
Mr Maddocks said: "Throughout Mr Craig's employment at George Wimpey & Co, and due to his position at the time, he was routinely tasked with duties which often involved working closely with asbestos without any form of protective equipment. This was a commonplace, but no less shocking, act of negligence – nobody should have been put in this position, regardless of seniority.
"Mr Craig is just one of the thousands of workers who have either been killed by, or are now facing, a devastating terminal illness because their employers did not take the necessary precautions to protect them against hazardous materials, when they either knew or should have known of the risks – unfortunately he is a relatively young victim of this painful, fast-acting and debilitating disease.
"Before his diagnosis he had planned to remain in full-time employment until his 70th birthday – however as a result of his illness he was forced to take early retirement from his role as a Managing Director in July 2009," Mr Maddocks added.
During his time at George Wimpey & Co. Mr Craig was responsible for making and fitting shuttering for manhole covers, cutting asbestos sheets, boxing pipes, lining ducts and cupboard doors with asbestos and fitting soffits. These jobs often involved cutting asbestos sheets on a circular saw and left Mr Craig's clothing covered in asbestos dust which he would have to shake off using his hands – causing him to further inhale asbestos dust particles.
Initially the insurers disputed the claim arguing that the levels of asbestos dust that Mr Craig was exposed to were within safety limits and that they were not negligent as at the time that Mr Craig was exposed they could not have been expected to know of the risks. At a court hearing in March these arguments were disputed by Mr Craig's lawyers and rejected by the court, which then entered judgement against the company.
Mr Craig said: "I am so angry to think that my life and those of my wife and children have been torn apart unnecessarily because of my former employers' negligence.
"Throughout my employment I was never provided with a mask or any protective clothing because I was working with asbestos. Had I been given this equipment to protect myself I wouldn’t be in this dreadful situation.
"I was absolutely devastated when I received my diagnosis and as a result I've now had to leave my job and can no longer enjoy playing golf or tenpin bowls which I used to play regularly with my sons."
Our expert mesothelioma solicitors will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved on has been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.