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Written by Laura Magson

Boyes Turner’s asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers have secured a lifetime settlement for a former British Rail employee within five months of instruction. The claim settled at full value despite initial concerns about an inconclusive diagnosis.


John was exposed to asbestos was when he was employed by British Rail as an apprentice fitter and turner. He worked on sleeping cars, buffet cars and kitchen cars, all of which had asbestos-lagged pipes running along the panelling and under the seats to provide heating. In particular, he remembered working on the winterisation modification of sleeping cars, which involved stripping asbestos off the pipes and replacing them with fibreglass. 

John contacted Boyes Turner’s asbestos disease team at a time when he was very unwell. Laura Magson, a senior - associate and mesothelioma specialist, went to visit him in hospital. He had a medical history of heart disease and had undergone a heart bypass and an endarterectomy from which he had never fully recovered but was still able to do all the gardening and DIY around the house.


He suffered recurrent pleural effusions for some years but became ill in January last year and started to lose weight. It was during investigations for his heart disease that x-rays revealed pleural plaques - scarring on the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure. He became increasingly breathless and had regular tests. His lungs were drained of fluid which his doctors advised was suggestive of mesothelioma, but not conclusive. 

The claim

The Department for Transport, on behalf of British Rail, admitted liability within a few weeks of us notifying them of the claim but, given the inconclusive nature of John’s test results, they questioned the mesothelioma diagnosis. Our own medical expert was also unable to give a conclusive diagnosis on the existing test results as the pleural effusions could relate to John’s pre-existing heart condition or a completely different form of cancer. In order to clarify the diagnosis, John underwent a biopsy at the Royal Brompton Hospital which showed clear signs of mesothelioma. Our medical expert dated the onset of John’s mesothelioma symptoms back to his illness in January when he began to experience weight loss and breathlessness, attributing the earlier pleural effusions to a different cause. His estimate of John’s remaining life expectation, as a result of the mesothelioma, was limited to just nine months.


Boyes Turner’s experienced mesothelioma lawyers act quickly and endeavour, wherever possible, to secure early interim payments and swift settlements to reduce the financial hardship and worry experienced by mesothelioma sufferers and their families. In John’s case, we were able to obtain an interim payment for John within a month of instruction and to obtain a full value settlement within five months to ease his and his wife’s financial worries and assist with his care costs at this difficult time.

For further information about claims for mesothelioma, please contact the mesothelioma and asbestos claims team by email at