Compensation Secured for Family of man who Died of Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer

Author:
Anthony Waddington
Senior Associate Solicitor, Industrial Disease Claims
Date:
13/05/2022

Our client's father, who we’ll refer to as Mr Jones, was admitted to hospital in March 2019 after describing symptoms of lethargy, weight loss and breathlessness to his local GP.

It was while Mr Jones was in hospital that a CT scan revealed evidence of primary lung cancer which had sadly spread to his liver. Mr Jones was sent home and set up with a supply of long-term oxygen and palliative care.

After being released from hospital, Mr Jones’ condition deteriorated rapidly and he died at home on 18 April 2019.

A post-mortem confirmed Mr Jones’ death was caused by metastatic adenocarcinoma of the lung, meaning abnormal lung cells had multiplied to form a tumour. Pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred, was also found in the post-mortem in a pattern that was consistent with asbestosis

After the connection was made between Mr Jones’ cause of death and exposure to asbestos, his children instructed us to make a claim for compensation on his behalf.

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Finding Out Where Mr Jones Was Exposed to Asbestos

Symptoms of asbestos-related illness often take decades to appear, so pinpointing where someone was harmfully exposed to the material can be especially difficult.

We knew that Mr Jones had worked as an Apprentice Boiler Maker for a ship building company between around 1954 and 30 September 1961, so we ran a witness appeal in the local press to find other people who had worked for the company around the same time.

It was through the witness appeal that we were able to get in touch with one of Mr Jones’ former colleagues who had also worked as an Apprentice Boiler Maker. He provided us with invaluable information as part of a witness statement detailing their working environment at the time.

We found out through this witness that the boilers made by Mr Jones’ former employer were lined with asbestos which would be applied both as dry panels and as a wet paste. While Mr Jones’ wasn’t responsible for lining the boilers, we heard from the witness that dust and drippings would cover any surface and person that was nearby.

Despite this, the company that employed Mr Jones’ didn’t warn any of their staff about the dangers of the asbestos and no one was ever given any protective equipment such as dust masks. Employees would even take handfuls of the asbestos dust and throw them like snowballs as they were completely unaware of the risk involved.

Mr Jones’ working conditions were detailed in our Letter of Claim to his former employer on 14 May 2022, outlining their failure to create and maintain a safe work environment for employees.

Consulting Medical Experts

As well as obtaining a witness statement, a medical report was also put together by a Consultant Histopathologist who specialised in diseases and conditions affecting the lungs. He observed that the number of asbestos bodies present in Mr Jones’ lungs supported the diagnosis of asbestos induced lung cancer.

We also had a Consultant Physician confirm there had been evidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on Mr Jones’ lung function tests that were carried out before his death which would have severely limited his ability to breathe normally.

These medical reports as well as the losses associated with the Mr Jones’ family’s claim were all taken into consideration when valuing how much compensation they should receive.

The Outcome

On 4 February 2021, Mr Jones’ former employer offered a £65,710 settlement which was refused and we were later able to secure £75,000 in compensation for Mr Jones’ children.

We were pleased with this outcome for Mr Jones’ family and we hope it can help his children start to move forward after the loss of their dad.

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