Expert Lawyers Investigating Whether Akber Somji Was Exposed To Deadly Substance While Working At Factory
A widow is appealing for help to establish if the asbestos-related cancer which claimed her husband’s life was caused by his four-week summer job as a student.
Akberali Somji, from Birmingham, died from mesothelioma, a form of terminal cancer affecting the lining of the lungs linked to exposure to asbestos often decades earlier.
The 68-year-old, known as Akber, was a chartered accountant. However, as a student he spent four weeks working as a cleaner at the Fort Dunlop tyre factory in 1969.
Following Akber’s death his family, including wife Zinnat, instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how the father-of-one was exposed to the deadly substance.
Zinnat has now joined her team at Irwin Mitchell in appealing for former workers at Fort Dunlop to help establish if his cleaning job at Fort Dunlop caused his death.
Expert Opinion“Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive, and sadly, incurable, form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres – something which leads to the death of more than 2,500 people in the UK every year.
“We are investigating Akber’s exposure during his time at Fort Dunlop and hope that those who worked alongside him will come forward with any information they have about the presence of asbestos and what measures were in place to protect employees from exposure to the deadly dust and fibres.
“We hope to help Akber’s family understand how and where he was exposed to asbestos as they continue to seek answers following his death less than a year after his diagnosis.” Alida Coates - Partner
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling asbestos-related disease cases
Akber came to England from Uganda in 1967 and studied at a sixth form in Kingston upon Hull. He was there until 1969. As a student, Akber would have various small jobs in between his studies, one of which was with Fort Dunlop. He began this holiday job in August 1969 as part of the cleaning team.
Akber married his wife, Zinnat on 28 August, 1983, and they had one daughter, Masuma, 24. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2015 and died on 26 March, 2016.
Fort Dunlop is the common name of the original tyre manufacturing company. It was established in 1917 and at one time it was the world’s largest factory. Its premises covered around 400 acres and had various different buildings and departments, employing around 10,000 workers. The building’s use was the storage of tyres and was called Base stores.
Akber worked at Fort Dunlop for approximately four weeks while the plant was shut for maintenance and cleaning. A lot of students were employed during the shut down period for maintenance and cleaning work.
Akber lived together with other students in a hostel during his employment. He was required to dust and clean all machinery before any maintenance work was carried out and he also had to clean the floors.
The family’s legal team is appealing for anyone who worked during the summer shut down period, or has information on the contract cleaning company used by Fort Dunlop, or who was a contract cleaner at Fort Dunlop in the late 1960s, to get in
After having left school Akber went on to become a self-employed chartered accountant in Birmingham and carried out mainly audit work.
As a result of his diagnosis he had to wind down his accountancy business and stop working. Akber enjoyed his work and if it wasn’t for his asbestos-related illness, he would have carried on working indefinitely for as long as his health would have allowed.
Masuma said: “As a loving father and husband, we have lost someone who cared for, protected, and completed our family. Ultimately, he was the pillar of our family and our lives have never been the same without him.
“Dad not only inspired me through his professional achievements as a chartered accountant, he was also a kind, soft-hearted, and generous individual whose loss has deeply impacted upon us all as a loved and respected father and husband.
“It is unfortunate that despite being cautious about his health, we have lost him in circumstances that we feel could have been prevented. He was a great father, husband and member of the community and we will cherish our memories of him forever.”
Anyone with information about working conditions at Fort Dunlop in the late 1960s is asked to contact Alida Coates at Irwin Mitchell on 0121 214 5230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org