Boyes Turner, specialist asbestos claims lawyers, acted for Sylvia whose father sadly died from mesothelioma in October 2013.
The general rule is that proceedings must be commenced within three years of the date of death (provided that the deceased had not been diagnosed with mesothelioma for three years before he passed away). Sylvia approached us in July 2016, just three months before the anniversary of her father’s death. There was no time to lose. Sylvia was acting on behalf of the estate but also on behalf of her mother who suffered a loss of dependency on her husband, Gordon, for his income and services. Gordon’s wife had suffered a stroke about the same time as the mesothelioma was diagnosed. She was managing fairly well, but it was such a devastating loss to receive the diagnosis of Gordon’s fatal condition especially at a time when Gordon’s wife needed some additional support herself.
Carpet Manufacturing Company Limited
As I was instructed by the family, Gordon had not had the opportunity of making a full lifetime statement about his asbestos exposure. He had however indicated on his benefits forms that he had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed by the Carpet Manufacturing Company Limited between about 1965 and 1987. This was a business at Gilt Edge in Mill Street, Kidderminster. There was a subsequent change of name to Crowthers Carpets Limited and then Coloroll.
The Carpet Manufacturing Company Limited was initially based in New Road and Gordon was the heating and plumbing engineer. I traced a witness who remembered Gordon and was able to say that he and Gordon came across asbestos on a daily basis. There were pipes that were lagged with asbestos of varying colours and it was Gordon’s job to do the repairs to the pipes and during the process he removed asbestos lagging from the pipe in order to tend to the pipe. He also re-lagged the pipes with asbestos himself if it was a small job which involved mixing up asbestos fibres with water in order to form a paste. He then slapped the asbestos on the pipes.
W William and Son (Birmingham) Limited
Gordon had also written on his benefits form that he may have had asbestos exposure whilst working for a company known as W William and Son (Birmingham) Limited of 137 Icknild, Port Road, Birmingham from August 1936 to 1949. Sylvia was able to say that her father was an apprentice plumber during this period and that Gordon had told her that he did have some asbestos contact whilst working for this company (although he did not say the way in which he was exposed to asbestos). Presumably, he was exposed in a similar way to the Carpet Manufacturing Company Limited, but he did not mention it.
W William and Son (Birmingham) Limited is a dissolved company. They are no longer trading and we could not therefore notify a claim to them. We managed to trace the insurance for W William and Son (Birmingham) Limited but it post-dated the period of employment when Gordon was there.
Proceedings could be issued against Carpet Manufacturing Company as although it had previously been dissolved, it had also been restored to the Register. As we were able to trace the insurers for the Carpet Manufacturing Company Limited, I immediately notified the claim to the insurers. I warned them that the limitation date was fast approaching and that proceedings would need to be protectively issued in October 2016.
I quickly obtained a medical report from a consultant respiratory physician who confirmed that Gordon died from sarcomatoid mesothelioma, very sadly with chest pains, shortness of breath and weight loss during his illness which shortened his life expectancy.
I put pressure on the defendant and the insurers for Carpet Manufacturing Company Limited admitted liability and agreed to make an interim payment of £50,000 within ten weeks of instruction. Proceedings still needed to be protectively issued because of the impending limitation date and allegations of negligence drafted in a document called the “Particulars of Claim”.
I then drafted the Schedule of Loss which is a document which sets out the financial losses Gordon’s wife had suffered and will continue to suffer in the future due to Gordon’s premature death. The case settled at full value for a six figure sum in December 2016.
I was delighted to be able to assist Sylvia and her mother, but the family acknowledged that whilst the money will be helpful, it in no way compensates for the loss of Gordon’s life.