Simpson Millar in £20,000 award for Asbestos Victim

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National law firm Simpson Millar LLP Solicitors has once again brought the plight of asbestos victims to the public eye as it announced yet another victory for those suffering from the terrible effects of asbestos exposure.

Phil Gower, partner specialising in industrial disease at the Cardiff office of Simpson Millar LLP achieved a £20,000 settlement for Arthur Webb, who was diagnosed with asbestosis last year.

Asbestos exposure is a hazard to your health – image

After suffering from chest pains and shortness of breath, Arthur, 81, was diagnosed with asbestosis in July 2009. Originally from London, Arthur has lived in Cyprus since his retirement in 1994. He said:

"I have always been very active; upon moving to Cyprus I joined a walking club and could clock up to 20 miles a week trekking around the island. I was also an avid DIY fan, but since my diagnosis I have to ask friends and neighbours to help out around the house. I couldn’t believe it when the radiologist told me that the sharp pains and breathlessness were linked to asbestos exposure from the past."

Asbestosis is chronic inflammatory condition affecting the lungs, caused by the inhalation and retention of asbestos fibres. It usually occurs after long-term exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos was used widely throughout the early 1900s as a cost effective material used for heat protection, sound proofing and strength.

Phil Gower said: "Asbestos was very popular in the manufacturing and construction industry right up until the 1980s, but symptoms of exposure poisoning lie dormant for decades. It is believed that the number of asbestos related diagnoses is likely to peak in the next 10 years."

Arthur worked as an electrician for caterer and food manufacturer J Lyons & Co between 1949 and 1976. J Lyons & Co was best known for its chain of tea shops that opened in 1894; serving the public tea, coffee and cakes. At one point the company was the largest food manufacturer in Europe, and produced cakes, biscuits, pies and ice creams in factories across the UK. The business also owned the Baskin Robbins and Wimpy fast food chains.

As well as the tea rooms, Lyons & Co opened Corner Houses, hotels and restaurants, also known as Steak Houses. J Lyons & Co merged with Allied Breweries in 1978, becoming Allied Lyons. By 1994 all remaining J Lyons & Co components were divested as Allied Lyons became Allied Domecq, focusing on the drinks and distilling trade.

Arthur worked in the Lyons cake and bread plants across the UK, in areas such as Glasgow, Wakefield, Bristol and London. Whilst carrying out duties such as power cable installation and testing and checking lighting circuits it’s believed that Arthur was exposed to asbestos from the nearby steam boilers and pipe works.

Arthur said:

"The asbestos lagging that was applied to the boilers was mixed up in a large drum, where they would tip large sacks of the dry asbestos fibre into the tank and mix it into a paste with water. The dust from the mixers would go everywhere, and I have a clear memory of having the dust all over our faces and clothes by the end of the shift."

"I used to go bowling up to six times a week up until last year; now I’m lucky if I have the energy to meet my friends once a week. I get out of breath just climbing the stairs."

Phil added:

"This wasn’t the only time Arthur was exposed to asbestos during his career – when fitting or fixing fluorescent lights the electricians would have to drill through asbestos roofing panels."

"What is concerning is that no steps were taken to prevent exposure to the employees, despite an increased awareness of the danger involved with exposure."

"Despite living 2000 miles away, we managed to achieve a brilliant result for Arthur and his family thanks to telephone and email correspondence. Arthur’s quality of life has been compromised massively by asbestosis and although no amount of money can provide a cure, hopefully the settlement will go some way to providing a comfortable environment for him."

Concluded Phil:

"If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or any industrial disease related to working in the UK, we have the expertise to win the compensation you deserve, wherever in the world you are now based."

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