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Ex Joseph Lucas Ltd Employees Asked To Assist With Asbestos Investigation

Widow Appeals For Husband's Former Colleagues To Come Forward


The widow of a man who died from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, is appealing for anyone who may have worked with her husband at a Birmingham factory to help with information about his exposure to the deadly substance.

John Lapthorne, 71, who lived in Ixworth, Suffolk with his wife Elizabeth, died in May 2013 after a  battle with the disease. John worked at Joseph Lucas Limited, on Foremans Road in Birmingham, between about 1959 and the early 1970s.

He was employed initially in the car battery production department and subsequently in the accounts department, where he was required to visit each of the departments to collect wage information. There were documents in each of the shops that John would have had to collect, including documents from the Made In Lucas Acid resisting Material (MILAM) shop.

The car battery factory was split into different departments including the stores, warehousing, assembly shop, charging shop and another department called the MILAM department. The MILAM shop at Formans Road was a separate area of the factory that was partitioned off. However, there were interconnecting doors in and out of the shop and people were going in and out on a regular basis. 

It is from this time period that John's widow Elizabeth and specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are seeking John’s former Joseph Lucas colleagues, in the hope they can provide further information about the working conditions and presence of asbestos at the factory.

Before his death, John could remember blue asbestos being used in the manufacturing of the car battery casings and that he was exposed to the toxic dust that came off during the manufacturing process. The car battery production department was also quite close to the MILAM shop where blue asbestos was mixed.

When in the accounts department, John would regularly have to walk through the various factories and assembly shops which were referred to as the “Burma Road” to get out and to go to the other admin offices near the factory.

Helen Ashton, a Partner and asbestos expert at Irwin Mitchell said: “We are seeking former employees of Joseph Lucas who can provide further information about the MILAM shop, its location and any information about asbestos in the factories generally.

“Employers were well aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure before the 1970s so there should be no excuse for companies not providing their workers with the appropriate protection. Unfortunately, because the deadly dust takes decades to develop, it is often only decades later that people begin suffering the effects.”

Commenting on her loss, John's widow Elizabeth said: “John's death came as a great shock to us all, as he had always been in great health and was still working full time when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He was a much loved husband, father and grandfather and will be sorely missed.”

Anyone with relevant information should contact Helen Ashton or Nicole Stringfellow at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or e-mail Helen.ashton@irwinmitchell.com or Nicole.stringfellow@irwinmitchell.com

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.