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Settlement For Family Of Former English China Clay Worker Killed By Dust Exposure At Work

Loved Ones Reveal Relief As Fight For Justice Comes To An End


The family of a former clay dryer who died of industrial disease four years ago have revealed their relief after specialist workplace illness lawyers helped them secure a five-figure settlement regarding the problems he suffered.

Walter Patton, from St Austell, died aged 83 in February 2013, with an inquest into this death finding that he passed away as a result of kaolin pneumoconiosis linked to his employment.

Following his death, Walter’s son Brian instructed industrial disease experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he was exposed to the high amounts of dust which contributed to his condition during his work at English Clays Lovering Pochin & Company (ECLP), latterly known as Imerys Minerals Ltd, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Now, the legal experts have secured a settlement of £52,500 from Imerys Minerals in relation to the illness that he developed.

Expert Opinion
“This case highlights the terrible impact that exposure to clay dust over a number of years can have on workers, particularly when employers fail to provide adequate protective equipment.

“Following our instruction from Brian, we undertook a range of investigations and also launched an appeal for witnesses to help us gain more information regarding the conditions that Walter would have faced during his work. A number of witnesses came forward including workers who had worked alongside and could remember Walter. The information they provided was crucial to this claim in order to piece together the system of work and the way in which Walter’s exposure to clay dust occurred.”

“While nothing will ever change what Walter and his loved ones have had to face, we hope that this settlement will at least provide some comfort to the family and also act as an important reminder of the need to ensure workers are always protected from harm.”
Alex Shorey, Associate Solicitor

Brian, also from St Austell, recalled that Walter started work for ECLP around 1950, with his role as a clay dryer and labourer seeing him employed at both the Methrose Dryers and Blackpool Dryers sites. He left the job in the late 1960s.

Brian, who also worked for the company across the 1970s and 1980s, said: “I remember visiting Dad at work when I was a child and seeing him covered head to toe in dust. There were certainly no face masks or protective equipment to prevent him from breathing it in.

“While I remember Dad struggling with breathlessness in the years leading up to his death, he actually did not tell me about his illness until just a few weeks before he passed away.

“It is incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that he died as a result of an illness he developed as a result of going to work every day and doing his best to look after the family.

“Securing a settlement is a huge relief, but our biggest hope is that lessons are learned from Dad’s story so that no one else ever faces the same issues again. We are also hugely thankful to everyone who helped with the witness appeal, as that information was vital to us getting the justice we feel we deserved.”

Read more about the work of Irwin Mitchell's Workplace Illness Team here.