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Mick was employed by Benham & Sons Limited on Garratt Lane in Wandsworth.  He secured an informal apprenticeship as a fitter’s mate.

The particular branch that Mick worked for made catering and cooking equipment. He was assigned to the fish fryers, although the steam ovens were made in the next bay and occasionally he helped them out if they were short of staff. Part of the assembly at the fish fryers involved fitting sheets of asbestos to the sides and the backs. These asbestos sheets had to be trimmed to size and he did this using a hand saw.

He further had to caulk the inside of the oven door seals with asbestos rope. This came in a ball and he cut it, and banged it into place with a mullet. This caused asbestos dust and fibres to be released into his breathing zone. The asbestos rope was dusty and when pulling out the ball asbestos dust and fibres went all over his hands.

Benham & Sons Limited later changed their name to Alpeninox Refrigeration UK Limited and were dissolved. 

However, we were able to trace the employers’ liability insurers for the entire period of Mick’s employment.

Devastating Diagnosis

Early in 2014, Mick started getting pain down the left side of his rib cage. The pain did not subside and in the summer of 2014 he was referred for a CT scan. He subsequently underwent a biopsy in September 2014 and was informed that he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer.

Whilst devastating in any situation, the effect on the family was catastrophic. Mick’s wife had recently been given an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and while she was on medication which was helping, it was likely that her condition would progress and that she would need care and support in the future, which Mick would not be able to provide.

Mick sadly deteriorated and died in early 2015.


We notified the claim to the insurers for Benham & Sons Limited. The insurers were Chester Street. As they are insolvent, they had previously entered into a scheme of arrangement. Unfortunately, the scheme of arrangement only pays 90% of the value of the claim. If Benham & Sons/Alpeninox Refrigeration UK Limited were still active with assets, the active company would have picked up the remaining 10%.

This means that unfortunately, Mick’s wife suffered a shortfall in the amount of damages she received. Nevertheless, she was relieved that the insurers admitted liability and acknowledged Benham and Sons were at fault with an admission of liability.

Several medical reports needed to be obtained including psychiatric and care reports as the main area of contention with the defendants was over Mick’s widow’s future care.

The case recently settled for over £170,000 gross.