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Settlement Secured For Family Of Former Leeds Firefighter After His Mesothelioma Death

Settlement Includes Recovery Of Care Costs For Bradford Hospice


The family of a Bradford man who passed away from mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, now have justice after expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell reached a settlement with the insurers of his former employers.


Bob Gay was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2013 and passed away just three months later in December 2013 at the age of 78.  His wife, Hazel, continued to fight for justice on his behalf.


In 1960 Bob joined Leeds and West Riding Fire Service and during his career attended numerous incidents at premises which were in part constructed from asbestos based materials; these materials would be damaged in the fires and asbestos dust and fibres would be in the atmosphere which he breathed in. Often the roofs would collapse into the buildings.


Bob worked in this environment until the 1970s and the fire-fighters would often not wear masks, especially if they were first at the scene of an incident.  This meant he inhaled the asbestos dust in the air which ultimately led to his diagnosis of mesothelioma.


Prior to his death, Bob instructed expert solicitors at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his claim and it was alleged that Leeds and West Riding Fire Service did not take reasonable steps to protect Bob from high levels of asbestos dust and fibre during his employment. A settlement has now been secured for the family from the insurers of the Leeds and West Riding Fire Service.


Lucy Andrews, an expert in asbestos related disease cases at Irwin Mitchell, who acted for Bob’s family, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for people like Robert and his family.


“On this occasion, the disease took hold of Bob very quickly following his diagnosis preventing him from doing the things he enjoyed such as gardening and showing his Lhasa Apso dogs.


“Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure, despite knowing how dangerous it is. Unfortunately, we know from experience how serious asbestos exposure can be for victims, like Bob, as mesothelioma is responsible for the deaths of more than 2,500 people in the UK every year.


As his condition deteriorated, Bob was cared for at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice on two occasions including for end of life care, providing invaluable support to him and his family. Solicitors acting for Bob’s family have successfully recovered money to contribute to the costs of his care from the Defendant which will be paid to Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice.


Helen Ankrett, Hospice Director at Sue Ryder Wheatfields, said: "Our care focuses on managing distressing symptoms such as pain and providing much needed support to patients and their families. The care we provide is free to people who use our services but we need to raise £2.5m to continue to provide our incredible care each year. The money paid in relation to our services will help us give more patients the care and support they need to spend the time they have left in the way they choose.”


As part of the settlement negotiated by the expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell the cost of care provided to Bob, over £6,500, has been recovered for the hospice.


The recovery of the care costs from his former employers was possible thanks to a landmark ruling secured by Irwin Mitchell five years ago which allows hospices to recover the costs associated with caring for mesothelioma victims, where these costs are originally funded through charitable donations.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, our expert mesothelioma lawyers could help you claim compensation. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.

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