WE Solicitors have successfully settled a mesothelioma claim against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner on behalf of the widow of Mr B. This comes weeks after the BBC reported that thousands of Met employees are at risk http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-32888314
Mr B was employed by the Metropolitan Police from 1964 to 1988 in their maintenance department. He was employed to repair and maintain all of Police properties including the station, police houses, boiler rooms and club houses. Mr B described himself as a bit of a “jack of all trades” because of the work he had done in the past. He recalled he was often called out to police station boiler rooms. There was asbestos insulation on the pipework so whilst he was working he would come into contact with asbestos brushing past it whilst working in amongst the pipes.
Nearly all of the pipework and many of the older boilers at this stage were lagged with asbestos. Sometimes he described he had to go to sites, take out old lagging and replacement pipework including the asbestos insulation. This work often involved clambering over lagged pipework, plant and equipment which disturbed lagging dust or he had to chip away at the lagging in order to access pipes. This of course created more dust which he inhaled as no face masks had been provided.
In mid 2014 WE Solicitors were contacted by Mr B’s son who wanted some general advice about a mesothelioma claim. It was agreed to visit Mr B in London as it was suspected he had mesothelioma although this had not been diagnosed at the time. A witness statement was taken from Mr B detailing how he was exposed to asbestos. Taking the opportunity to secure evidence from Mr B at this early stage was crucial in this case as he sadly passed away less than month later in June 2014. Often the success of these cases depends on the ability to establish where, how and when a person has been exposed to asbestos and without this information cases can be difficult.
When Mr B passed away, his widow took over the case despite her own ill health as she felt strongly it was something her husband would have wanted to see through to the end to ensure her some financial security.
It was only after a post mortem was carried out and an inquest took place that a diagnosis of mesothelioma was confirmed. It was imperative that the coroner was made aware there had been a history of asbestos exposure during Mr B’s career and a copy of the witness statement we had obtained was made available to the coroner to assist in the inquest and his findings that Mr B suffered with an industrial disease. We are often finding now that with the pressures on resources, inquests and post mortems are not taking place and this is jeopardising the opportunity for families to seek justice for their loved ones who may have passed away whilst suffering with an industrial disease.
Thankfully the Metropolitan Police dealt with the matter in house and were largely sympathetic to Mrs B’s own health issues and the need to settle the case quickly. The case settled for £120,000 without the need to commence court proceedings and interim payments were sought at the earliest opportunity to assist the family.
Steven Evans the partner dealing with the case said “This is a perfect example of a case where a home visit at the earliest opportunity to secure vital witness evidence was essential. Despite the fact that when contacting us Mr B did not have a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma, we considered the symptoms and exposure history and felt it was very much worth taking a day out of the office and incurring the cost of a train fare from Manchester to London. In view of Mr B’s age all former colleagues he had kept in touch with had passed away before him and we were therefore unable to corroborate exposure evidence from other sources. It would have been a much more difficult case had we not acted quickly to safeguard the evidence and recollections of Mr B.
I would urge families who are in any doubt to contact us if they suspect their loved ones may have mesothelioma. Many people feel they are wasting our time or will be charged. This isn’t the case and we will try and help you as best we can to obtain mesothelioma compensation at what is often a traumatic and difficult time.”
Mrs B said “Thank you for handling my case, I appreciate all your efforts on my behalf”.