We are pleased to report that we have successfully recovered a significant amount of mesothelioma compensation for Mrs W, after she sadly lost her husband to the incurable disease. Continue reading to learn about the case in detail.
How was Mr W diagnosed with mesothelioma?
Mr W was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2016 following a CT scan. Often, a biopsy is undertaken to confirm the diagnosis, but Mr W’s consultant was able to diagnose Mr W based on clinical and radiological findings alone.
How was Mr W exposed to asbestos?
Mr W was exposed to asbestos whilst working for two employers over a period of almost 40 years. From approximately 1954 to 1965 he worked full time for ICI’s Fertilizer Division in Billingham as an electrician. From 1965 to 1993 he worked full time for British Visqueen Limited (part of ICI’s plastics division) as a Development Engineer.
1954 to 1965 (approx)
Mr W worked 8 hours a day, often 7 days a week, for ICI’s Fertilizer Division. His job involved installing electrical equipment and fitting and repairing wiring and cabling around the plant. Whilst his own work did not directly expose him to asbestos, he was regularly exposed to the substance in his working environment.
Miles of heating pipes, which were lagged with grey-coloured asbestos, ran around the plant. The asbestos was held in place with mesh and was often damaged and brittle. Whilst working, Mr W often had to climb onto the pipe ridges, which caused asbestos dust to rise up in the air. He also had to brush past the asbestos-lagged pipes on a regular basis, which caused more asbestos to be released. The asbestos fibres covered his overalls, hair and skin.
Mr W also remembered laggers applying fresh lagging to various sections of pipework whilst he completed his own work nearby. They poured raw asbestos powder into buckets which was mixed with water to form a paste-like mixture. They smothered this mixture onto the pipework with their bare hands. This was dusty, horrible work. When Mr W worked near them he could not avoid breathing in the asbestos fibres which floated in the air.
Mr W’s lifetime witness statement confirmed that when they poured the asbestos into buckets, he would sometimes only be around 10-15 feet away. When he was close he could see clouds of asbestos dust billowing into the air. The lagging work was carried out on an almost-daily basis as there were so many pipes which had to be maintained.
As well as working close to the laggers, Mr W also worked next to fitters who were repairing sections of damaged pipework. They were responsible for removing the asbestos lagging, which was around 40mm thick. They smashed the lagging with hammers, which resulting in large amounts of asbestos dust being released into the air. The asbestos dust covered Mr W’s skin, hair and overalls, and he also could not avoid inhaling this. Mr W estimated that he was nearby when this work was completed around once a week.
Greyish asbestos dust covered Mr W’s overalls at the end of many of his working days. These overalls were washed once a week by ICI, and he was provided with fresh ones to wear each Monday.
Whilst working for ICI, he was never provided with a mask, nor warned of the dangers of being exposed to asbestos dust.
1965 to 1993 (approx)
Mr W was employed full-time by British Visqueen Limited, which was part of ICI’s plastics division. He worked for them as a Development Engineer from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. He also completed regular overtime hours at weekends.
His work involved the installation and design of polythene plant equipment. Polythene granules came on site from ICI’s Wilton site and were then converted into polythene films and sacks, on site in Stockton.
Mr W was involved in plant investigating, installing and improving equipment. The granules were processed through machinery. They went into an extruder and would then go through a dye, before being blown into bubbles to be turned into sacks to be sold to customers. Mr W was heavily involved in improving machines to increase production and efficiency.
Whilst his own work did not directly expose him to asbestos dust, he regularly breathed this in throughout his time with the company. As before, Mr W spent time working next to fitters whose work caused him to be exposed to asbestos.
Mr W estimated that he spent around 25% of his time in an office environment working on designs and improvements away from the asbestos-filled environment. For the remainder of his time, he would be out on site completing his work next to where others removed asbestos lagging.
At the end of many working days, he would have a fine coating of asbestos dust on his overalls. These overalls were washed on a weekly basis by the company. Again, Mr W was always provided with fresh overalls to wear on a Monday morning. However, he was still never warned of the dangers of working with asbestos, now was he provided with any form of mask to wear.
The medical evidence
Expert evidence was obtained from a well-respected respiratory physician to support the mesothelioma claim. This evidence confirmed that Mr W sadly died from the incurable asbestos-related condition. The expert concluded that this was connected to his past history of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
In this case we secured an interim payment of mesothelioma compensation for Mrs W following the sad loss of her husband. We also reached an agreement on the value of the mesothelioma claim with the defendant’s solicitors shortly after.