Cape operated a substantial asbestos factory at Harts Lane, Barking, London. Albert lived, went to school and worked in the neighbourhood of the factory. Albert said he came into contact with asbestos as asbestos dust was discharged from the factory into the neighbouring streets and affected those who lived and worked nearby. He had never worked with asbestos, nor had his family members.
We took a statement from Albert during his lifetime. He did not live in the immediate proximity to the factory, but in houses which were all more than about a kilometre away from the factory. He told us that he recalled dust generally around the area and that children would at times use lumps of asbestos, brought out from the factory, as "chalk" and played games with it in the street.
He also probably came into contact with asbestos dust from the factory through attending schools nearby and from working in the area.
Albert attended Gascoigne school from 1935 to 1938, and again from summer 1941 until July 1944. Witnesses thought that the school was about 800m from the factory.
Back Lane school
Albert went to Back Lane school from 3 October 1938. He was probably there for about two years in total, although he was evacuated during the war while he was at Back Lane School. The school was approximately half a mile from at the factory.
Thames Plywood factory
Albert also worked at the Thames Plywood factory in North Street. Thames Plywood was immediately adjacent to the Cape Asbestos factory, which was over the wall. Albert was there in 1945, 1947 and 1951, for about a year each time. He described in his witness statement asbestos coming over the wall into the yard at Thames Plywood and getting into his clothes and hair. Albert's evidence was supported by a witness (sadly since deceased) who also worked at Thames Plywood between 1947 and 1956 . The witness described the asbestos coming into the yard and "being blown around in the wind like a snow flurry" and covering him and his overalls. He also remembered discussion about problems with extractors fans in the factory and "big festoons of asbestos hanging in the factory windows".
Albert recalled that his aunt worked at the Cape Asbestos factory and she lived near them. He visited her home regularly and recalls her bringing home pieces of asbestos which they used as "chalk". Another family member remembered beating Aunt Judith’s overalls on the washing line to free them of dust.
Supportive medical evidence was obtained from a respiratory physician. The medical expert confirmed that on the balance of probabilities Albert had developed mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer, as a consequence of his asbestos exposure from the Cape Asbestos factory. Sadly Albert died in 2015 from mesothelioma.
After collating supportive witness statements and serving these on Cape, together with the medical report and Schedule setting out the financial losses suffered, Cape made an offer to settle the case which was brought by Albert's widow after his passing.
Albert's widow was, of course, completely devastated by the death of her husband, but accepted the offer. No amount of money will bring Albert back but Albert's widow is pleased to be able to move on now that the case has been brought to a successful conclusion.