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We were instructed by Ingrid who very sadly lost her husband due to the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. He died in 2012 and Ingrid contacted us during October 2014. We obtained statements from Ingrid and Gordon’s family about the ways in which he came into contact with asbestos. 

A Haggis and Sons (Metals) Limited   

Gordon was an employee of A Haggis and Sons (Metals) Limited, a small family scrap metal business where he worked from 1958 to 1989. A Haggis and Sons were contracted to Young & Co’s Brewery plc between 1958 and 1970 and ABC Bakery (now known as Associated British Foods plc) between 1972 and 1973. 

Both Young & Co’s Brewery plc and ABC Bakery contracted Gordon and his brother to remove boilers. 

ABC Bakery / Young & Co’s Brewery  

Whilst Gordon was working at Young & Co’s Brewery and ABC Bakery on these particular contracts, he came into contact with asbestos as he stripped out quantities of asbestos dust when dismantling the boilers. He and other family members ripped out the old asbestos lagging and bagged the asbestos debris up. This process created clouds of dust in the vicinity of where they were working. The family alleged that Gordon could not avoid breathing asbestos dust in.

We argued that it would have been readily apparent to Young & Co’s Brewery and ABC Bakery that A Haggis and Sons and its employees were not expert or competent in the removal of asbestos, nor where they equipped for the safe removal of asbestos nor where they aware of the risks of removing asbestos. We argued that the bakery and the brewery were negligent and they should have employed suitably competent contractors to undertake the removal of the asbestos. 

Court proceedings  

Proceedings were issued at the High Court in London in March 2015. We obtained a supportive medical report and made attempts to put forward offers to settle the claim at the earliest opportunity. 

The bakery and the brewery filed defences, denying liability. They argued that A Haggis and Sons were independent sub-contractors, had control of the entirety of the work themselves and were suitable competent in the removal of asbestos. 

The bakery and brewery continued to vigorously defend the case.

The court gave permission for all parties to obtain independent engineering evidence. We obtained an engineering report which supported the case and made further offers to the defendants which were not accepted.

Settlement  

The case was proceeding towards trial which was set down for mid-November 2016. The defendants finally made a coordinated offer of £80,000 gross. The case settled in late September 2016 for £90,000. 

No amount of money will compensate Ingrid and her family for the loss of Gordon. Ingrid was, however, very relieved that the prolonged litigation came to an end before Trial and that, in effect, the bakery and the brewery have acknowledged that they were in some way responsible for Gordon’s death despite the fact that he worked for a family company.