We ended January by successfully recovering £185,000 in compensation for the widow of an ex-maintenance assistant. Uncover how the team won one of their most complex cases to date on page 4.
To help make your asbestos claim with confidence, we’ve introduced three new interactive features to our website. Discover more about our Claims Calculator, Trustpilot reviews and Livechat on pages 6 and 7. The Helen Rollason Charity is this month’s charity highlight on page 9. A great charity founded in 1999 as a legacy of Helen Rollason MBE, who passed away from cancer aged only 43.
We sincerely hope you enjoy this month’s issue. Thank you for reading and keep sharing!
Helena Cameron. Asbestos Justice Associate Director
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity –HRCC
The Official Facebook page for the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity. Supporting people living with cancer through research, drugs trials and support centres. The charity receives most of its funding from donations, fundraising and through twelve shops. It relies on support from volunteers.
Official Facebook page for the Medical Innovation Bill. The Bill will help doctors to innovate new treatments and cures safely and responsibly for cancer and other diseases. Our mission is to ensure all patients, medical professionals and the public get to have their say in the current public consultation on the Saatchi Bill.
Paul Richardson Care (@Care_Richardson)
Campaigning for mental health awareness, disability awareness, your rights and choices.
Dean Fennell FRCP (@dean_fennell)
Professor of Thoracic Medical Oncology, Thoracic Cancer Lead – CRUK Centre Leicester; Chair – NCRI mesothelioma
subgroup; IMIG President.
Laurie Kazan-Allen (@ibasecretariat)
Coordinator of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and publisher/editor of the British Asbestos Newsletter.
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which affects the mesothelial cells. These cells form the linings that cover most of the body’s organs.
Direct effects on the body
The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma. This affects the linings of the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for around 75% of mesothelioma diagnoses.
Mesothelioma can also affect the heart – pericardial mesothelioma; and the testes – testicular mesothelioma; however both of these are very rare. The second most common form affects the abdomen, this is called peritoneal mesothelioma.
As with the more common pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and can have a lengthy latency period. This means that someone could have been exposed to asbestos 10 to 50 years ago but may not develop symptoms of mesothelioma until now.
Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the cell walls in the abdominal cavity. Symptoms can include feeling or being sick, pain or swelling in the abdomen, diarrhoea or constipation, loss of appetite and an unexplained loss of weight.
Unfortunately, it is often not until the condition is at an advanced stage that mesothelioma is diagnosed. This is the case with each type of mesothelioma. Due to this, the prognosis for patients is poor. Currently there is no cure for mesothelioma and so treatment focuses on palliative care, relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.
One of the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma is a build up of fluid in the abdomen, this is called ascites. Ascites causes swelling in the abdomen and can cause discomfort. The fluid can be drained through a procedure called abdominal paracentesis or an ascitic tap.
In many cases this procedure can be done as an outpatient and is not usually painful. After the procedure patients should feel much more comfortable and may also notice an increase in their appetite.
Due to its late diagnosis, patients suffering with peritoneal mesothelioma are often too unwell to have chemotherapy as this can take its toll on the body. However, in cases where a person is strong or where an early diagnosis has been made, chemotherapy may be used to try and shrink the cancer.
Again, due to the late diagnosis, surgery is often not an option for the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma. However, if surgery is possible a peritonectomy can be done. This involves removing the section of the peritoneum – the lining of the abdomen – that has been affected by mesothelioma. Cytoreductive surgery may also be an option.
This involves as many as six peritonectomy procedures to remove as much cancer as possible. Heated chemotherapy is then introduced directly into the abdominal cavity. Both of these surgical options aim to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life.
Could I claim for peritoneal mesothelioma?
As with pleural mesothelioma or any other type, those suffering with peritoneal mesothelioma may be able to pursue a claim for compensation for their condition following exposure to asbestos.
Due to the latency period of the condition, many companies that exposed employees to asbestos in the 1960s to 1990s are no longer trading. Fortunately, this does not mean that a compensation claim cannot be made.
We have pursued claims against many dissolved companies. Through various searches we are often able to trace insurers for the companies and claims can then be pursued against them.
In pursuing a claim for mesothelioma, Asbestos Justice aim to make the process as quick and hassle free as possible. The entire process can be conducted over the phone and through the post or by email. Alternatively, if you would prefer a home visit, our specialist solicitors can come out and see you and your family.
If you would like any further information about mesothelioma or would like advice from our specialist asbestos solicitors please call 0800 038 6767.
At Asbestos Justice, we are experienced at dealing with complex, asbestos disease claims and a recently concluded case bears testimony to this.
We received instructions from Mrs F to pursue a claim for mesothelioma compensation following the sad death of her husband who passed due to the condition on 11th November 2012.
Difficulty in Diagnosis
Mrs F was given no indication from her husband’s medical team that her husband was suffering with an asbestos related condition. This is quite common as asbestos related conditions can be difficult to diagnose on the basis of a sufferer’s symptoms and scans alone. Difficulties in diagnosis can often lead to problems in pursuing the claim for mesothelioma compensation as the sufferers are not given the opportunity to think back to how they were exposed to asbestos dust in the workplace in the past.
Post mortem reveals low asbestos exposure
The case was reported to the coroner who arranged for a post mortem to take place. The results presented some concern in the case as the mineral fibre analysis showed the presence of a small quantity of tremolite asbestos but this was not elevated above levels of asbestos contained in the general environment, indicating that Mr F had suffered low level exposure to asbestos dust. It was stated in the coroner’s office documentation that the results did not provide clear cut evidence of occupational exposure to asbestos but this would need to be interpreted in the light of a detailed occupational history.
As Mr F sadly passed away before we were instructed to deal with the case, we were unable to take a statement from him referring to how he had been exposed to asbestos. We made enquiries with the assistance of his surviving wife to identify potential witnesses who worked alongside the deceased in the workplace.
Invaluable work history given by former colleague
After speaking to a number of people we spoke to an invaluable witness who could remember coming into contact with asbestos when working with Mr F for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) at their Priddy’s Hard, Gosport, Ammunitions depot.
The witness explained that he started work for the Defendant as a yard boy during 1974 approximately. After a matter of a few weeks he progressed to work as an assistant laboratory explosive maintenance assistant. It was when working in this role alongside Mr F from around December of 1988 that he recalled being exposed to asbestos dust.
They both worked full-time for the Defendant from 7:30am until 4.15pm Monday to Friday and one of the main tasks he and the deceased were employed to complete during their first few years of working as explosive maintenance assistants involved breaking down 4.5 inch shells within the test area of the Priddy’s Hard depot.
The shells had a VT fuse fitted to the top of the shell which had to be broken down which essentially meant separating this apart. After separating the fuse up from the shell they had to remove the copper wire ring inside the shell to be soaked in xylene. The copper ring rested in between the shell and the fuse. Before doing this there would be a need to remove the protective asbestos insulation from around the copper wire ring which was usually present within the fuse in a ring type shape.
The witness described the asbestos as being of a whitish colouration, which was used for safety purposes in those days as an affective insulating and fireproofed material. This formed part of the VT fuse in most cases. As they separated the lagged copper wiring, puffs of asbestos dust would rise up into the atmosphere which they both inhaled.
He estimated that they would break down up to 100 fuses each day on average which meant that they would be breathing up to 200 puffs of asbestos dust as a result of removing the insulation from the copper wire ring throughout the course of each working day.
The witness helpfully remembered the asbestos dust being visible to the eye. It floated around in the general atmosphere when they worked within the test area on the fuses.
The evidence confirmed that whilst both workers always wore a mask when carrying out this type of work, this was a thin, white, paper type, similar to those that can be found in DIY stores to wear when painting at home. The workers believed that this would be sufficient to protect them from breathing in asbestos dust but it is generally accepted that such masks would be entirely inadequate.
Further evidence was secured from the witness confirming that a green plastic bag was present within the workshop. This would be filled with their contaminated gloves and thin paper masks throughout the course of the working day. This would be taken away at the end of the working day to be disposed of. The bag had the words “hazardous waste” embossed on the side.
The witness explained that it would be common for them to spend a continuous 4 to 5 week period working with the 4.5 inch shells.
At the end of these shifts, their overalls would be covered with some asbestos dust at the end of each working day within the breakdown area and they would take these off once a week to be left on site. They would be hung up in the changing rooms and as the workers changed, some asbestos dust would fall from their work overalls and floated around in the general atmosphere.
In addition to the work in the workshops, the witness explained that the deceased also carried out his work on the 4.5 shells described in the above onboard RFA supply ships between approximately August of 1989 and August of 1991. His work onboard the ships involved the same tasks that they carried out at Priddy’s Hard as the deceased was still working as an explosives maintenance assistant onboard these ships.
The witness was even able to recall the name of their supervisors at the Ministry of Defence at the time which presented further helpful evidence to support the claim for mesothelioma compensation.
The work colleagues later moved to the Ministry of Defence’s Frater – Elson site to work as explosives maintenance assistants during 1991.
Recalling Priddy’s Hard
The witness provided a vivid picture of the conditions at Priddy’s Hard which was a very large, old depot. It had 12 rooms on what they called the common, each being around 20 yards from one another. They were the size of a typical chalet type structure and were situated circularly on a dog race track type area. At the end of this, a number of offices were present.
Next was an area known as Foreshore which overlooked the lake where there were about 9 buildings present, two of which were isolated breakdown room areas. There were 2 old railway station buildings where stores were delivered or taken away to different locations around the depot. Further on there were a number of what they called magazines which were used to store the ammunition completed in the workshops.
All along each of the workshops and other buildings present within the Priddy’s Hard depot there was a vast amount of pipework which ran across each building. The whole depot was steam powered in those days and all of the pipes were lagged with insulation, according to the witness. The witness believed all of the historical lagging, which covered the pipework, contained asbestos.
He stated that between December of 1988 and the August of 1989 it was commonplace for both he and Mr F including other colleagues to be walking past buildings where fitters and maintenance men were in the process of removing the asbestos lagging from the outside pipework in order to attend to necessary repairs. The dust was described as being visible to the eye and floated around on the breeze.
The witness clearly remembered seeing chunks of the asbestos lagging covering the grass verges and pathways which lay in between each building. As they walked through the debris, some further asbestos dust would raise up into the atmosphere which all of them inhaled.
The witness stated that he never recalled being formally warned by the Ministry of Defence about the dangers of being exposed to asbestos dust. Nor was he told to wear anything other than a thin paper mask to do the work. He added that none of the courses he attended throughout his MOD career ever covered the dangers of being exposed to asbestos.
Following receipt of the witness and medical evidence in the case, the Ministry of Defence agreed to pay over £185,000.00 in mesothelioma compensation to Mrs F. This case was a classic example of where no established evidence of asbestos exposure was available on day one of our dealing with the claim. However, by using our specialist knowledge in the field, we were able to obtain a detailed evidential account of how Mr F was exposed to asbestos in the workplace, securing the compensation for Mrs F, even in the face of the post mortem revealing that Mr F had suffered what was considered to be low level occupational exposure to asbestos.
If you, a family member or colleague are concerned over asbestos exposure, contact Asbestos Justice on 0800 038 6767 for expert legal advice.
This month we introduce three new interactive tools from the Asbestos Justice website.
The Claims Calculator
The Claims Calculator helps sufferers and their families instantly value their claim based on a series of simple questions. We all appreciate how asbestos disease can affect your quality of life. Funding towards your own care or that of a loved one can
ease the stress at this difficult time. Medical treatment, trials, transport, therapies, home improvements and specialist care can all be assisted through the civil claims process. Whether at home, visiting your GP, sat in the garden or out seeing friends and family, the calculator is easily accessible.
Need advice? We’re online.
Sometimes you just need someone to talk to for reassurance and clear advice. What if you had an experienced legal adviser only a mouse click away?
With the new LiveChat feature, you can speak to one of our legal advisers instantly, whether in the comfort of your own home or with your GP. If you have any questions regarding benefits, the claims process, clinical trials, financial information or legal advice, our team is ready to help.
Simply click on the ‘Let’s Talk’ button to chat live to one of our expert legal advisers. Chat times are open from 9am until 5pm weekdays.
Open and Honest Reviews
Finding the right asbestos disease solicitor can prove stressful, especially at such a difficult time. We’ve introduced TrustPilot to help you make that decision with confidence. TrustPilot gives our previous clients the opportunity to share open and trustworthy reviews about their experience with Asbestos Justice. We understand the importance of honesty when it is needed most, so don’t take our word for it, let our clients tell you the truth.
Please visit https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.asbestosjustice.co.uk to read our latest reviews.
Asbestosis’ First Victim
Asbestosis claimed its very first victim in 1922. A young 13 year old Nellie Kershaw worked at the Turner Brothers Asbestos Company, Rochdale factory as a rover, spinning the asbestos fibre into yarn.
By 1922, Nellie fell extremely ill and she was no longer able to work. Her doctor had diagnosed her with the occupational disease, Asbestosis . Despite Nellie suffering from the painful affects of Asbestosis, she was ineligible for any compensation based on the fact that it was simply an occupational disease. Both Nellie and her husband contributed frequently to a local scheme for sickness benefits yet were denied to any help. Even her pleas for help to her employees went unheard.
At only 33 years old, Nellie sadly passed away on 24th March 1924, leaving her two children and husband to survive in poverty. Nellie now lies in an unmarked ‘paupers’ grave in a Rochdale cemetery.  The Turner brothers saw Nellie’s death as a threat to the Rochdale factory and demanded Nellie’s doctor to remove the mentioning of ‘asbestos poisoning’ from her medical records.
However, despite the Turner family’s efforts to cover the real reason of Nellie’s death, the coroner who examined Nellie’s lungs discovered that her death was caused by:
“…fibrosis of the lungs due to inhalation of mineral particles.”
The term ‘asbestosis’ was used for the very first time in Nellie’s death report which was published in theBritish Medical Journal that same year.
There are numerous state benefits which you may be able to claim if your asbestos related disease was caused whilst in employment. For Expert advice call 0800 038 6767.
What is it?
This is a one off lump sum payment totalling £2,000.00 which could be payable if your husband, wife or civil partner has passed away due to an asbestos related illness.
Am I eligible to claim?
You may be entitled to claim a Bereavement Payment if your spouse or civil partner paid sufficient National Insurance Contributions.
In order to apply, one of the following must apply to you:-
- you were under State Pension age at the date of your partner’s passing
- your spouse or civil partner was not entitled to Category A state Retirement Pension when they passed
You will be unable to claim a Bereavement Payment if any of the following apply to you:-
- you were divorced or had a dissolved civil partnership when your spouse or civil partner passed
- you are living with another person as husband, wife or
- you are in prison
How to Claim
You can apply through your local Jobcentre or alternatively by downloading, completing and submitting the relevant form, using the following link:- https://www.gov.uk/bereavement-payment/how-to-claim
Alternatively, you can apply by phone using the following numbers:-
If you reside in the UK: Bereavement Service on 0345 606 0265 Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm
If you reside abroad: International Pension Centre on 0191 218 7777 Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 6:00pm
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease, finding the right help can be difficult. Our advice is to speak to your own treating medical team to consider the best available treatment options available to you, including Trials as there are many other specialist hospitals providing the same specialist service.
To help your search, we have compiled a list of treatment and trial centres below based in the UK for asbestos disease.