In January , we wrote about Jonathan Woods, a Metropolitan Police Officer who died due to mesothelioma. He was exposed to asbestos when helping in the aftermath of a bombing at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Here at Asbestos Justice we hoped that the circumstances of Mr Wood’s sad passing were a one off, unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case.
On Saturday, 15th June 1996, the IRA planted a bomb in a van on Corporation Street in the centre of Manchester. The bomb was not defused in time and although the area was evacuated, 212 people were injured. Thankfully, there were no immediate fatalities, however, it appears the bomb may have claimed a victim, 20 years later.
For three weeks after the bomb blast, Stuart Packard worked as an emergency security guard at the Arndale Centre. The bomb had destroyed buildings within a half mile radius and the clean up took months. Many of the buildings affected by the blast, including the Arndale Centre, were built in the 1960s and 1970s and so, would most likely have contained asbestos. Asbestos was not banned in the UK until 1999, therefore any building constructed before then could contain asbestos materials in some form.
When the bomb exploded, dust and debris from the damaged buildings was thrown up to half a mile away from the site. This would have included asbestos dust, which it appears Mr Packard was exposed to.
Although archive footage of the clean up shows workmen wearing protective suits and masks, it is unclear whether in his position as security guard, Mr Packham was provided with these vital items to protect him from the deadly asbestos dust.
Mr Packard was just 40 years of age when he passed away due to mesothelioma, leaving behind his wife, nine year old son and four year old daughter.
Unfortunately, it seems Jonathan Woods’ and Stuart Packard’s tragic deaths may just be the start of a new wave of asbestos sufferers. Since the 1970s there have been more than 50 bombs in the UK and due to the 10 to 50 year latency period of mesothelioma the full effects of these disasters may only now be emerging.
Unlike other asbestos conditions, sufferers can develop mesothelioma after low level exposure to asbestos dust.
There may be difficulties with this type of exposure when trying to pursue an asbestos claim. Firstly, it would have to be established that asbestos was present in the blast area, an assumption that there was asbestos due to the age of the building is not enough to successfully pursue a mesothelioma claim. Witness evidence could be obtained to show asbestos was visible in the debris. However, this relies on being able to find witnesses who are familiar with the appearance of asbestos. Alternatively, the local Council may possess plans or surveys which document where asbestos was present within buildings prior to an explosion.
Once it has been shown that asbestos was present, negligence must be proven. In cases such as this, Mr Woods or Mr Packard’s employers should have provided them with suitable protective clothing and masks before they entered the contaminated site and such failings could be relied on in support of allegations of negligence in a mesothelioma claim.
Insurance for the employer needs to be traced, particularly where the employer is no longer in business. For Mr Woods, this would not be a problem as he was employed by the Metropolitan Police. However, as a security guard, Mr Packham may have been employed by a private company and if they are no longer in business, various insurance searches would have to be carried out.
While it may seem like the odds are stacked against Claimants being able to claim asbestos compensation, here at Asbestos Justice our specialist solicitors are experts in tracing companies and/or insurance. Even if they have exhausted all avenues for civil, asbestos compensation claims, they can assist asbestos disease sufferers in applying to the Government for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) or for lump sum payments of asbestos compensation under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 (PWCA) or the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS).
If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos claim please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.