Did Your Work with the Local Council Expose You To Asbestos?


A man who refurbished houses for his local council was exposed to asbestos. Simpson Millar LLP helped him to get compensation in a very difficult case.

Asbestos Exposure

Maximum Exposure to Asbesos

Simpson Millar LLP was first approached by the man after he was referred to us by the hospital he was being treated at. We took a note of his work history and soon discovered there was only one possible job in which he was directly exposed to asbestos – causing him to suffer from mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer.

He had worked for a central heating company for 2 years between 1973 to 1975. This company was employed by the local council to refurbish houses. Working in a team of 3, they ripped out the existing pipes and installed central heating in local council houses. There was no doubt that the man had been substantially exposed to asbestos. He would have to cut asbestos sheets which he did mostly inside the properties. The electric saw he used produced large clouds of dust which would cover him and his work colleagues. When they would cut the sheets outside, local children would play in the dust.

We managed to contact one of the man's old coworkers who confirmed all of this. He vividly remembered watching clouds of asbestos float down the road as they were working. He was currently suffering from pleural plaques, a condition also brought on by exposure to asbestos.

Payments under the Mesothelioma Scheme

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, the man's life expectancy was cut short by around 12 months. The poor man's wife had died from a fatal condition so he lived alone. He decided to undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy and often stays at his daughter's house - he felt much safer there as he did not like being alone.

With the help of Macmillan nurses, he was already receiving industrial injuries benefit and carer's allowance. We completed a form for him to get a one off payment under the Mesothelioma Scheme. We explained that he could claim under this scheme and should do so.

Holding the Local Authority Responsible

Although we were unable to track down his old employers and their insurance company, so we decided to target the local authority. They were aware of the dangers of asbestos. The man's coworker remembered that there was a 'huge media fuss' about the use of asbestos. The local authority eventually had to rip out all of the old asbestos and replace it.

We held the local authority responsible for the man's mesothelioma. They were fully aware of the use and dangers of the substance. They were also responsible for the work carried out on the properties and were in control of the materials used.

The local authority denied that they were responsible. They clinged to the idea that they were not his employer and had no real control over the work being carried out.

Simpson Millar LLP Going Beyond Expectations

When we approached a number of barristers to take on the case, they declined. We persevered and found one willing to take on the case under a conditional fee arrangement.

We got the barrister to negotiate, we managed to push the sum of compensation up to £54,000. We thought this amount was more than sufficient given the difficulties proving the local council were at fault, and went way beyond what our client expected.

Top Tips

  • Try to get into contact with old work colleagues – they may be able to confirm your evidence
  • It is much easier to prove you are in the right if you can vividly remember your work history – try to keep a record of all your old work places
  • There are many benefits you are entitled to as a mesothelioma patient – discuss this with your solicitor to see where they can help

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