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Written on 31st March 2020

Boyes Turner's team of specialist asbestos claims lawyers were instructed in May 2017 by Gillian* who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Gillian had always been very fit and healthy. She had had no major illnesses in the past and in fact gave up smoking about twenty years ago. However she started to suffer with pain around the chest area in March 2016 which radiated to the shoulder blade. She had a mammogram which showed no abnormalities. She then went to see her GP in December who referred her for x-ray which revealed a slight shadow or infection.  However, a second x-ray a few weeks later was clear.  

In mid-March, the consultant suggested an MRI scan which sadly revealed two tumours involving the ribs. Mesothelioma was eventually diagnosed after biopsy. Whilst this was a complete shock to Gillian and her husband, she was only too well aware of the devastation mesothelioma can cause given her mother-in-law and uncle had suffered and died from the same disease.

Asbestos exposure

Gillian remembered coming into contact with asbestos whilst being employed by Donnington Castle Caravans Limited (which later became Donnington Mobile Homes Limited). The company was based in Shaw, Newbury, Berkshire and they made large static caravans. Gillian was there from 1970 until about 1973. She worked on a large jig which was used for making the roofs of the caravan. She recalled climbing on top of the roofs and it was her job to fix wooden sheets to the roof, drilling through the roof with a nail gun. The roof was made from 8 ft x 4 ft sheets which were flat and grey in colour. She did not know if the sheets that were used were made from asbestos, but her brother-in-law who also worked there told her that asbestos was used in the making of the caravans and that the other workers used to throw it at each other like snowballs.  

She did remember that asbestos was used in the kitchens in the caravans. She used to clean the caravans including the kitchens. She thought that the other employees put asbestos around the stove and she swept up any dust and debris so if there was any asbestos dust lying around, she would have swept it up.

Witness traced

As Gillian could not recall extensive exposure whilst at Donnington Caravans we spoke to a witness, Gavin*, who was able to say something further about working with asbestos at Donnington Caravans. He recalled that Gillian and her colleagues breathed in asbestos dust as asbestos sheets were cut all day, every day, in the machine shop. There was a designated machinist that cut asbestos sheets on a circular saw and he confirmed that the asbestos measured 8ft x 4ft, which of course supported what Gillian had previously said. Gavin recalled that the machinist was covered in white dust from head to toe. He recalled the machinist looking like a snowman from all the dust.

Donnington Castle Caravans Limited 

As Donnington Castle Caravans Limited was dissolved many years ago, we needed to trace the Employers’ Liability Insurance to notify them of the claim. Unfortunately, we were not able to trace the insurance for the period in question, but the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme exists to provide an average compensation pay out to sufferers of mesothelioma where exposure to asbestos occurred in employment and where that employer no longer exists and there is no applicable insurance in place.

We made the application on Gillian’s behalf and the administrators of the scheme confirmed that the application was successful within two months of initial instruction. A week or so later the amount was confirmed at just over £160,000 gross.

*Names changed to protect client and witness’ confidentiality