Former Kodak Worker Speaks out After Cancer Diagnosis Linked to Chemical Exposure

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A Merseyside man who was diagnosed with bladder cancer caused by exposure to dangerous chemicals whilst working at the iconic Kodak factory in Kirkby has received a five-figure pay out from his former employer for his suffering.

John Morgan, 69, worked in the synthetic chemicals department for the photography and imagery business between 1969 and 1986.

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Having started with the company as an apprentice when he was just 16 years old, he had been responsible for assisting in the production of large batches of chemicals.  

Despite battling prostate cancer in 2008, the father of two, who also has four grandchildren, had always been fit and active. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, travelling abroad, and playing football and cricket.

However, in early 2017 noted a number of worrying symptoms which suggested the cancer may have returned.

He sought medical help, and in November 2017 a cystoscopy at Aintree Hospital revealed that he was suffering from multiple tumours on his bladder, a condition he later learnt was linked to exposure to carcinogenic materials.  

John went on to instruct industrial disease specialists at Simpson Millar to determine where and when he might have come into contact with the dangerous substances, and an investigation into his work history subsequently linked his cancer to his time with Kirkby-based Kodak.

His solicitor pursued a claim for compensation on his behalf, yet while Kodak accepted that John had been exposed to the chemicals at work, they disputed that it was the exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals had caused the cancer.

However, Simpson Millar was able to obtain expert advice from a Urologist and an Oncologist who supported the claim, and Kodak’s insurers agreed to settle out-of-court. He has since received £45,000 for the pain and suffering he continues to experience as a result of his condition and treatment.

Speaking of his illness John said it was ‘extremely hard’ to come to terms with the knowledge that more could have been done to protect him.

He said: “I spent much of my working life at Kodak, and I really enjoyed both my job, and spending time with my colleagues. It’s therefore extremely hard to come to terms with the fact that by simply turning up to the factory day after day resulted in me getting cancer.

“I remember being given PPE, and we received training on when to wear what, but it wasn’t always the right gear for the job, and it didn’t always protect us.

“The ongoing treatment that I receive as a result of the cancer impacts my life hugely, and the lives of my loved ones. My wife and I loved to travel, but now we are far more limited on where we can go and for how long.

“I hope by speaking out about my experience others who may find themselves in a similar boat know that it is possible to hold their ex-employers to account.”

Kirstie Bork, an Industrial Disease specialist solicitor at Simpson Millar who represented Mr Morgan in his battle for answers, said: “Bladder Cancer is a terrible disease which causes a lot of discomfort, and the symptoms will likely affect Mr. Morgan in some way or another for the rest of his life.

“He is delighted to have now brought the matter to a close and is hoping that by speaking out others will also know that there is help out there. The compensation he has received will of course never make up for the pain and suffering he has endured, but it will provide some financial peace of mind for the future.”

Kirstie went on to say that while workers assume that the personal protective equipment and the safety gear that employers provide is suited to the work that is being carried out, that is not always the case.

“Work-related ill health and occupational disease affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK,” Kirstie explains. “According to the HSE, there are around 12,000 lung disease deaths every year that are linked to past exposures at work, and around 1.7 million workers are suffering from work-related ill health."

  • "It is imperative that lessons are learnt from cases such as Mr Morgan’s, so that other workers are protected and do not have to suffer unnecessarily in the future."

    Kirstie Bork

    Industrial Disease Solicitor

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