Contact us to arrange your
FREE initial consultation

Email us Call me back

Written by

Boyes Turner acted for Anthony following his diagnosis of mesothelioma. Our specialist mesothelioma solicitors met with Anthony and his wife at their home during his lifetime. Anthony had a biopsy initially in January 2016 and an attempt to carry out a talc pleurodesis was unsuccessful as the surgeons were unable to inflate the lung. The lining of the lung was drained from fluid and a chest drain was fitted. His diagnosis was confirmed to him following the results of the biopsy and the family were naturally, devastated.

When we first met Anthony, a family friend had already assisted Anthony and made an application to the DWP for benefits on his behalf. On the form, Anthony had confirmed that he worked at a steelworks but that he was not exposed to asbestos. He was convinced that his asbestos exposure had occurred much later in 2001 when he worked at a well known supermarket. 

He was carrying out maintenance work at a store and was asked to look at a section of the ceiling above the entrance with a view to heaters being fitted. It wasn’t until a few ceiling tiles had been taken down they realised the ceiling was made of asbestos. He was not supplied with any protective equipment and the work was of course halted. There were further episodes when he thought he might have been exposed to asbestos and he subsequently found a fire door frame that he drilled with asbestos. He described these occurrences as being very fleeting and lasting only minutes. These incidences at the supermarket were his focus of asbestos exposure and it was only when questioned by our specialist solicitors that he remembered that he most likely came into contact with asbestos when working as a labourer for British Steel in the 1970s. He recalled working in very dirty and dusty conditions with no protection. He was working next to the blast furnace doing his main job which was working on the coke ovens. 

Witness Appeal 

The claim was notified to the steelworks but further evidence was needed to support Anthony’s case given that he was not able to articulate the asbestos exposure in great detail. This was because he was focussed on his own job. An appeal resulted in several witnesses stepping forward to assist which corroborated Anthony’s case. However, Anthony sadly deteriorated and died a few months after we first saw him.

Court Proceedings 

Anthony’s widow, Ann, carried on with the claim. Laura issued the claim at the High Court because it was clear that British Steel were going to defend the case. Engineers were instructed for both parties and the preliminary Opinions for the engineers were exchanged. British Steel also served witness evidence that supported their defence, and the case was listed for a trial to take place in March 2021. Negotiations between the parties had proved unsuccessful. 

Care for Family 

It was really important to Ann that the case was resolved in her favour, not just because she wanted an acknowledgement from British Steel that they breached their duty of care towards her husband, contributing to his contraction of mesothelioma, but also because of her personal circumstances. Both Ann and Anthony were employed full time at the time that he fell ill. Whilst Anthony’s employers were very good and he suffered no loss of earnings up until he passed, Ann of course would have been dependent on his income but also his future pension. Prior to the onset of mesothelioma, he intended to carry on doing his job until age 70. His employer confirmed that he would have been no barriers preventing him from working until age 70 provided he was fit and well.

Ann also suffers with her own health concerns which means that she struggles to do housework, gardening and so on. Anthony was fortunate that he was able to work early and return home early. This meant that he was able to do all of the laundry and housework, prepare the dinner and so on. Ann of course is now having to do these things and having to engage the help of family members. In the future, she may need to pay for professional carers to help with these activities.

The further complication for Ann is that the couple had three adult sons, one of whom is severely disabled. He is registered blind with severe learning difficulties, epilepsy and autism. He lives with carers close to the parental home, but Anthony had a particular close bond with his son. He used to see him very regularly. Because of her own mobility problems and her son’s condition, it is not possible for Ann to take her son out on his own. As he is blind he tends to lean on whoever he is with for support and to help him to navigate. Ann is simply not strong enough to be able to do this. Her son is prone to seizures and can be physically very difficult to deal with. He suffers a fit on a daily basis. Before the onset of his asbestos related disease, Anthony took the lead in caring for their son when he came home for weekends and Christmas visits. Laura obtained a report from a nursing care expert who was able to quantify the replacement services to both Ann and the couple’s son, but also value the care that Ann and the family had been providing to Anthony prior to his death.

Settlement 

Just before the exchange of further witness evidence, the Defendants made an offer to settle the case. Negotiations ensued and the case concluded for a six figure settlement before further engineering reports were also exchanged.

Laura said:

"There is no amount of money that can compensate Ann for the loss of Anthony who should have lived for another 15 years had he not contracted mesothelioma. The couple hadn’t even begun to plan their retirement. Ann is delighted that the case was brought to a successful conclusion without the need for her and her family members to attend a trial and that there has been an acknowledgement that British Steel were responsible for the contraction of mesothelioma. She now feels able to focus on her close family after what was a long and drawn out contested claim requiring various witnesses on both sides, engineering experts medical and care experts"

The case also highlights the importance of having help from an asbestos support group or specialist lawyers to assist with the completion of benefits forms.

Ann said:

"I have to say, Laura has been outstanding in dealing with this case. She is an asset to Boyes Turner"

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease please contact our specialised mesothelioma and asbestos disease team by email on idclaims@boyesturner.com.