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Written by Laura Magson

We initially acted for Frank who was sadly diagnosed with mesothelioma in the Autumn 2018. We went to see Frank at his home and he recalled asbestos exposure with a number of potential companies. He was a floor layer who used Marley Tiles throughout his employment. The tiles were laid with an adhesive and he cut them to size for edges and around doorways by scoring and snapping the tiles by hand. He used a pin vice and later a Stanley knife to score the tiles. The tiles and adhesives were always provided by the companies and but he provided his own tools and did not wear a mask or any other respiratory protection. The tiles had to be warmed on a primer stove and he worked by emptying the box, warming the tiles one at a time and then returning the tiles to the box to keep them warm as he started to lay them. In a typical day, he would cut, score and snap a minimum of 200 tiles. He was expected to cover the equivalent of 60 square meters each day. There were no washing facilities on the job so he would sit in dusty clothes in the van and eat his lunch during his breaks.

The initial difficulty was over who to pursue. There were many potential employers that he worked for and some periods when he was self-employed. One particular entity was dissolved with employers' liability insurance for the period when Frank was there, but we would have needed to have proved Frank was a "quasi employee" and this was simply not possible from the account he had given as very sadly Frank died a week after we saw him and was incredibly poorly at the time he gave his witness statement, so was not able to give detailed information about his time there or the products used. He was also not able to sign his witness statement because he deteriorated very quickly. 

Dunlop Semtex Limited

Frank had been employed by this company for about one year. We had pursued this entity before successfully and there was insurance in place for the entirety of Frank's employment. Frank had not been able to say that he was definitively exposed to asbestos during his time at
Dunlop Semtex, but because we had the witness statements from former clients (who gave their permission for them to be used in the case) and because we knew about the manufacturing processes of the tiles at the factory, there were sufficient prospects to instigate a claim on behalf of the widow.

All of the relevant court documents were prepared and proceedings were issued in August 2020. The insurers had previously rejected the formal offer we put forward to settle the claim, but before the first interim hearing, the defendants agreed to our proposed court directions including an admission of liability and an interim payment of £50,000. The case then proceeded towards an assessment of damages which was due to be heard in April 2021. The defendants made an offer before Christmas which Laura advised was too low, They then increased their offer by £15,000 which Frank's wife was glad to accept so she could see an end to the case.

It was a dreadfully traumatic time for Frank's wife with Frank going downhill very rapidly. Very sadly, her son passed away just a few weeks after Frank and the two inquests were held on the same day. Laura was pleased to be able to support Frank's wife at the Coroner's hearing.

Laura said "this was a really difficult case which unfortunately was not going to be resolved during Frank's lifetime due to the complexities involved. There were many procedural steps that needed to be taken and investigatory work to ascertain the best course of action in the light of Frank's complex working career and employment situation. I am really pleased that the case was resolved well before Frank's wife needed to attend court and that we were able to meet the family twice at their home and once at the Coroner's court."