Boyes Turner’s specialist industrial disease solicitors were instructed in December 2011 by Mr L following his enquiry to the Asbestos Advice Helpline regarding his late brother who had died from asbestos related lung cancer in August 2011.
Mr L’s brother died leaving a Will in which Mr L was the executor as he was not married and had no children.
Mr L’s brother had worked for FW Hawker at the Stothert & Pitt premises in Batheaston in Somerset between 1963 and 1973. He undertook apprenticeship in carpentry and then continued working for the company afterwards.
Whilst Mr L’s brother sadly passed away before making a lifetime statement, he had lived with Mr L for several years prior to his death and therefore Mr L was able to make a statement to provide evidence regarding his brother’s employment history and how he was exposed to asbestos. Mr L remembered that his brother had worked for a few years lining crane cabins with asbestos sheeting. He had to cut the sheeting to size and drill it into place causing asbestos dust to be released from it. He also worked on the production line for a while where he mixed asbestos putty to fill in gaps in the crane caps. Subsequently he worked as a labourer and was involved in maintenance of the Stothert & Pitt premises. The factory area was extensive and contained pipework throughout which was lagged with asbestos. The lagging was in poor repair and it was an ongoing job for Mr L’s brother to remove sections of lagging and replace it with new. In addition he also repaired and maintained the pipework which required the removal and replacement of asbestos lagging. Mr L’s brother was never provided with any breathing protection.
The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking however it is now known that exposure to asbestos can contribute to its development if someone is exposed to a high dose of the dust. Detailed information is required as to the frequency and duration of exposure to asbestos in order to prove a causative link between the exposure and development of a lung tumour.
The claim was difficult because there was no lifetime statement so no detailed evidence of Mr L’s brother’s exposure to asbestos. Boyes Turner attempted to trace other witnesses to give more detailed evidence but unfortunately it was not possible. Therefore a report was obtained from an expert engineer regarding Mr L’s brother’s likely asbestos dose based on Mr L’s evidence and the report was supportive.
Another difficulty was that Mr L’s brother had a post mortem examination undertaken following his death and asbestos fibre counts were undertaken to samples of lung tissue and these tests did not reveal any asbestos fibres in Mr L’s brother’s lungs.
Attempts at settlement were made with the defendant but no offers were forthcoming and therefore Court proceedings were intimated.
Medical evidence was also obtained from an expert who was of the opinion that asbestos may have contributed to the development of Mr L’s brother’s lung cancer if the exposure had been at a high enough level. The defendant however obtained their own medical evidence and report from expert engineer which questioned this.
Despite the difficulties faced eventually terms of settlement were agreed in February 2015 and Mr L received almost £7,000 in compensation.