Mesothelioma caused by asbestos dust leads to army wife's death


A former Army mechanic from Carlisle has won a compensation claim against the Ministry of Defence following his wife's death from an asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos Dust Hazard

A coroner found that Helene Todd inhaled asbestos dust in the 1970s when her husband, John, served as a mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

The military vehicles on which Mr Todd worked while stationed in Germany used asbestos for heat protection. After each shift, he brought home his dust-covered overalls, which his wife cleaned.

In August 2009, Mrs Todd began to notice that things were, in her husband's words, "not quite right".

After doctors were consulted in January 2010, Mrs Todd was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive and usually fatal cancer which attacks the lining of the lungs. She died 7 months later, aged 66. The couple had been married for over 40 years.

Mrs Todd had already started a claim for compensation against the Ministry of Defence. After her death, the case was taken up by her husband.

"We worked it out that the only time that she had ever been near asbestos was possibly working with my overalls," said Mr Todd.

At an inquest into Mrs Todd's death in May 2011, a coroner found it "entirely feasible this disease was caused by washing her husband's overalls."

Awarded £110,000 by the MoD in an out-of-court settlement, Mr Todd is "appreciative" of the arrangements which will see him receive some £95,000 after deductions.

In a statement, the MoD extended its condolences to Mr Todd. "When compensation claims are submitted, they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation.

"Where there is a legal liability to pay compensation we do so."

"The amount of compensation paid is determined by common law principles which take account of an individual's pain and suffering, degree of injury, property losses, past and future financial losses and level of care required."

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