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Widow Wins Battle For Justice In Memory Of Husband Exposed To Asbestos

Expert Lawyers Help Battle For Justice Following Death Of Dad-Of-Two


By Suzanne Rutter

The widow of a former electrician, whose death was caused by exposure to deadly asbestos dust, has today spoken of her heartache after insurers for the companies he worked for acknowledged more could have been done to protect him – ending her four year battle for justice.

Keith Fraser was 63 years of age when he died of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, on the 7th of July 2009, leaving behind his devastated wife Sandra along with their son Ivan, now 44, and daughter Joanne, 41, who live in the Cramlington area of Northumberland.

Following his tragic death, the family turned to industrial disease experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell in a bid to get answers as to how and when he was exposed to the deadly dust.

The firm’s investigations led them to national engineering firm James Scott Limited, for whom he had worked as an apprentice electrician at the Blyth Power Station, and Swan Hunter (Shipbuilders) Limited who employed him in their yard in Wallsend as an electrician.

Today the family welcomed the acknowledgement from both businesses’ insurers that more could have been done to protect Keith, but said that the legacy of asbestos exposure had a devastating impact on their lives. The insurers have decided not to contest the case that the family were pursing in the High Court.

Their solicitor, industrial disease expert Roger Maddocks from Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: "The family are relieved to have achieved justice for Keith who lost his life through extremely tragic circumstances.

"Sadly, the insurers’ acknowledgment of responsibility, by deciding not to contest the case, has come too late to provide Keith the justice he deserved while he was still alive but it will help Sandra honour his memory and has given her the answers she deserves about how and why her husband died.

"Many lung cancer sufferers, even those who have smoked, often don’t realise their risk of developing the terminal illness may have been dramatically increased by heavy occupational exposure to asbestos dust and that we may be able to help them get the justice and financial security they deserve.

"We hope this case shows that it’s never too late to get justice for victims of asbestos-related deaths following heavy exposure to asbestos dust at work. Furthermore, people who are diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of the deadly dust are entitled to seek justice as much as those suffering from more well known conditions such as mesothelioma or asbestosis."

Keith first started to show the symptoms of lung cancer in December 2008 when he suffered a persistent cough, breathlessness, as well as chest and back pains. He underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy at North Tyneside General Hospital in April and May 2009 but developed blood poisoning and gastrointestinal bleeding and pneumonia. He died on 7 July 2009 surrounded by his family.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), research indicates there are around 2,000 asbestos-related lung cancer deaths each year – equal to the number of those linked to mesothelioma. But only an estimated 122 lung cancer cases were reported by chest and occupational physicians in 2011 as asbestos related.

This demonstrates, starkly, that the link between heavy exposure to asbestos dust and the role it plays in dramatically increasing the risk of developing lung cancer is often not identified by medical staff.

Consequently, many victims of lung cancer who have been heavily exposed to asbestos dust at work do not get the justice they deserve.

Sandra said: "I’m so relieved that his former employers insurers have acknowledged that more should have been done to protect Keith. Finally we feel some comfort knowing that we’ve finally got the answers we deserve about how and why he developed this terrible disease.

"Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure is debilitating and cruel illnesses which cause a lot of pain and suffering, not just for victims like my husband, but families too who feel helpless watching their loved ones deteriorate so quickly.

"It’s only right that companies which exposed employees to asbestos without any warnings or protection should he held to account. I hope my case shows that victims, or their families, can get the justice they deserve if they suffered asbestos-related lung cancer as well as mesothelioma, which is more common and well known about."

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, our expert asbestos lung cancer solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.