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Written on 26th March 2020 by Laura Magson

Boyes Turner’s mesothelioma specialists represented 67-year-old Ann* and later her bereaved family in a complex, contested mesothelioma case against Marks & Spencer Plc.  

Ann had worked on the shop floor at Marks & Spencer’s Reading branch for 30 years leading up to her diagnosis of mesothelioma. During her employment, in 2006, Marks & Spencer had carried out work in the Reading store, for which they were fined over £1m for unsatisfactory Health & Safety practices in relation to asbestos, so when Ann was diagnosed with mesothelioma, she instructed Boyes Turner to investigate a claim against the retailer. However, the Consultant Respiratory Physician whom we instructed to confirm the cause of Ann’s condition believed that the 2006 asbestos exposure was unlikely to have caused the condition, owing to the short latency period between that exposure and Ann’s symptoms. If Ann was to succeed with her claim, it would be necessary for her to prove that she was exposed to asbestos during an earlier period of her employment.

Ann’s solicitor, Laura Magson, has extensive experience in mesothelioma cases and was aware of other strongly contested claims against Marks & Spencer. She used her industry knowledge and contacts to obtain asbestos health and safety surveys relating to the Reading store from 2003 which referred to the presence of asbestos in the ceiling tiles at the store. This prompted Ann’s memory of previous works in the 1980s and 1990s when the tills where she was stationed were relocated whilst work was being carried out. During these works the ceiling tiles were disturbed and she remembered that she had needed to wipe down the tills to remove the dust after the work had been undertaken.

In the light of the documents that Laura was able to obtain from other sources, Laura issued a court application for pre-action disclosure against Marks & Spencer, forcing the defendant to disclose further surveys and internal memoranda dealing with asbestos at Marks & Spencer’s Reading branch prior to 2006. If the presence of asbestos in Ann’s area of work within the store could be proven before 2006, then the cause of her mesothelioma would be established. The hearing never went ahead, and the documents were never disclosed, as Marks & Spencer admitted liability for Ann’s illness shortly before the disclosure application was due to take place.

Laura was then able to secure supportive expert evidence from the Consultant Respiratory Physician, who was satisfied that Ann’s asbestos exposure in the 1980s and 1990s contributed to her contraction of mesothelioma.

Ann sadly passed away before the conclusion of the case. Her bereaved family received  full damages in settlement of her claim.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos related disease, we may be able to help. Contact us by email for a free initial discussion 

*Names changed for client’s confidentiality