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Written on 26th March 2020

Boyes Turner’s industrial disease team were contacted by the widow of a former Chatham Dockyard worker shortly after his death from lung cancer and asbestosis.

Her husband had died of suspected lung cancer which had then been confirmed on post mortem as carcinoma of the lung with metastases to the bone, brain and liver. The post mortem also revealed pleural plaques in the deceased’s lungs, with evidence of fibrosis of the lung and numerous asbestos bodies, indicating that he had been exposed to asbestos.

The deceased had not talked about his asbestos exposure to his wife. All she knew was that he had been a fitter and turner and had worked at Chatham Dockyard between 1951 and 1973. With no opportunity to obtain a lifetime statement from the deceased, we had to investigate the circumstances of his asbestos exposure from the little that we knew by locating people who had worked at Chatham Dockyard during the same period of time and taking witness statements from them.

We discovered that our client’s husband had worked in the engine rooms where he was required to remove asbestos lagging from the pipes and boilers. His wife recalled that he used to wear his own overalls to work. He would come home covered in dust and she would make him soak the overalls in the bath because they were often thick with dirt. 

We obtained confirmation of the deceased’s employment history from HM Revenue & Customs and notified the claim to the Ministry of Defence, supported by reports from our medical experts confirming that the deceased’s death was caused by asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer.

Despite the lack of witness and engineering evidence, the absence of a lifetime statement from the deceased and his history of heavy smoking, we secured a £110,000 settlement for his widow, without court proceedings, a year after she first instructed us to investigate her claim.

No amount of money can compensate our client for her loss but we are delighted that she was happy with the outcome of her claim and that her husband’s death has been acknowledged by the Ministry of Defence.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestosis or asbestos related lung cancer we may be able to help. Contact us on 0118 952 7201 or email for a free initial discussion.