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Justice For Former Old Town Dock Worker Diagnosed With Asbestos Related Illness

Industrial Illness Specialists At Law Firm Irwin Mitchell Secure Settlement For Former Labourer


A former Old Town dock worker diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease asbestosis after being exposed to the deadly dust during his career as a labourer in Old Town docks says he feels ‘justice has been done’ after lawyers secured him a five-figure settlement from the ex-employer responsible.

Ken Benney, 85, was diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease in 2011 after suffering from right sided back pain and breathlessness that has left him requiring daily care provided to him by his daughters and grandchildren.

The former Old Town dock worker from Newport, Gwent, was exposed to asbestos while working for John Cashmore Ltd (now known as Joseph Gillott & Sons), first between 1953 and 1965 and later between 1969 and 1979. While working for the company Ken would regularly be involved in the ‘breaking’ of ships which included burning through and stripping out asbestos lagging found all over the pipe work of the vessels.

Asbestos experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell negotiated a settlement of £50,000 for Ken which will help cover the cost of care as his condition may deteriorate and further limit his independence.

Ken said: “I remember there being asbestos all over the ships we worked on and we didn’t really think anything of breathing in the dust as we broke up the lagging because we never told about the dangers or given any safety gear to wear.

“I worked in a number of different roles for the company, some which saw me directly involved with breaking the ships and others where I was less so, such as moving bits of the ships using a crane. No matter what job I did it was hard to not breathe in the asbestos because the dust would get everywhere, even in the cabin of the crane.”

Ken first noticed the pain and experienced breathlessness in August 2011 and was diagnosed with asbestosis five months later. His respiratory performance has been reduced by 30 per cent because of the disease and this is likely to deteriorate further in the remaining years of his life.

He added: “It was absolutely devastating to find out that asbestos exposure had made such a horrific impact on my well-being and the illness has completely changed my life. I am so grateful to have my family around me because I need so much help around the home now and feel so anxious about my health.

“The settlement will be a big help financially when it comes to my care and will help support my family to look after me and help me to battle on against this horrible asbestos-related illness and it does feel like justice has been done because the company should have done something to protect me from this.” 

Rajni Bharj, industrial illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said: “The last few years have been very difficult for Ken and his family as they have come to terms with his illness, which has left him feeling constantly breathless, weak and unable to look after himself independently.

“Ken has also been left incredibly worried about his health because of the asbestos and is at risk of developing further illness including mesothelioma – an incredibly serious malignant disease for which there is no known cure.

“This could easily have been prevented if Ken had been told about the dangers of asbestos by his employers and provided with safety equipment – a procedure that his employer did not in fact put in place until 1975 even though the dangers of the dust were well known before, throughout Ken’s employment.

“No amount of money can make up for his illness, but the settlement will at least provide him, and his family, with some financial security and funds for his future care."

Our specialist asbestosis lawyers will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved on has been diagnosed with asbestosis caused by asbestos exposure. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.