Mesothelioma compensation over asbestos at work death


A Kilmarnock woman whose husband died from mesothelioma has been awarded compensation of £258,520.

Diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer about a year after retiring, William Wolff, 66, was given less than a year to live.

Asbestos at work

A Court of Session in Edinburgh heard that William's widow Elizabeth, 69, retired from her job as a hospital social worker to care for her husband, who died seven months later in March 2007.

The court was told that the couple planned to spend time together exploring Scotland and taking a trip to Australia.

Following her husband's death, Elizabeth and other family members raised an action for damages. William's former employer, Weir Construction Ltd, accepted that the condition was caused by negligent exposure to asbestos during William's time with them.

Assessing what level of compensation should be paid to Elizabeth and family members, Judge Lord Doherty described the Wolffs, who married in 1962, as "a devoted couple", who had 3 daughters, a son and 3 grandchildren.

Lord Doherty acknowledged the care Mrs Wolff gave her husband in the final months of his life. "It is very clear to me that she did her utmost throughout the deceased's illness to meet all his needs; and that as the illness progressed this became increasingly demanding.

"Other family members did what they could to assist her but she bore the brunt of it."

Lord Doherty said he proceeded in accordance with medical evidence that Mr Wolff could have expected to live for another 17 years had it not been for his condition.

After William died, Elizabeth sued as both an individual and an executor. The judge granted her a total award of £258,520, including £65,000 for the suffering of William, who had experienced "exceptional pain".

The judge also awarded damages totalling £52,317 to the couple's 3 daughters. The couple's granddaughter was awarded £7,084. Claims by other family members have been settled.

Phillip Gower of Simpson Millar LLP said that, although cases of asbestos-related disease are increasing in number, many could be avoided. "The HSE's Asbestos Regulations clearly state that employers have a duty to manage asbestos and prevent exposure to fibres. Until these critical health and safety issues are taken seriously throughout the building sector, there will continue to be tragic cases such as this."

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