The family of a former Jaguar worker, who died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, have formally launched a court action against the luxury car firm for compensation.
Fifty-eight-year-old Mohinder Singh Heer from Binley, Coventry had originally begun a claim for damages after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Sadly he did not live long enough to see the case reach court and his family are now continuing the legal battle against his former employers.
The Birmingham office of national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, are acting on behalf of Mr Heer and have now filed a claim at the High Court in London against the defendants, Jaguar, (formerly British Leyland) based in Coventry.
It is alleged that Mr Heer contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos dust while working as a fitters mate in the maintenance department at the car manufacturers Browns Lane site between 1973 and 1992.
As part of his work duties, Mr Heer would regularly sweep the factory floor, which, it is claimed, was contaminated with asbestos dust that had crumbled away from old pipe lagging. He also helped to remove dust extraction bags from the roof of the plating shop, which also allegedly contained a large amount of asbestos dust and was released into the air when removed.
During his time at the car plant, Mr Heer also assisted with the demolition of No.1. Paint Shop. It is claimed this particular building contained enormous quantities of asbestos lagged pipework which was removed as part of the demolition process.
Jaguar is accused of not providing Mr Heer with protective clothing or any respiratory protection and of not warning him about the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Mr Heer passed away on 6th June 2007 after battling for more than three years against the illness. He leaves behind his wife, Shato, to whom he was married for 39 years, as well as two children and four grandchildren.
Mr Heers son, Harbinder, said: We are still very much in shock and are all finding it very difficult to come to terms with his death. He had always been very fit and healthy until the onset of this illness. At first he developed a cough, which he thought nothing of but then he started to get breathless, his weight started to drop alarmingly and he became tired easily.
Even after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma he refused to give in. He underwent a thoracotomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, sought the help of private doctors and healers and spent his life savings on the latest drugs, all in a bid to give him a little more precious time with his family.
Andrew Frost from Irwin Mitchell solicitors represented Mr Heer and is now acting on behalf of the family. He explained: We are very disappointed that we have had to issue formal legal proceedings against Jaguar. Sadly, as the defendants have not been prepared to either admit liability or enter into negotiations with us, this was the only course of action we were able to take in order to gain compensation for Mr Heers widow. Our thoughts are very much with the family at this very sad and difficult time.
The final hearing, which will be heard by Master Whitaker at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is expected to take place later this year.