Posted by Simon Elliman, Partner
COLLIERY WORKERS FAMILY RECEIVE SIX FIGURE COMPENSATION FOR MESOTHELIOMA WITHIN A WEEK OF THE TRIAL DATE
Mr Ferguson left school at the age of 14 and went to work at Fishburn Colliery in County Durham. Following nationalisation he undertook an apprenticeship with the National Coal Board (NCB) as a blacksmith and remained working for the NCB at Fishburn Colliery until 1968.
In the early part of 2016 Mr Ferguson began to experience some breathlessness, pain and weight loss. Having undergone various investigations he was advised that he had mesothelioma.
Maggie Powell of our Industrial Injuries team visited Mr Ferguson at his home in March 2016 and prepared a detailed Statement on his behalf dealing with his employment history and more particularly how he came into contact with asbestos whilst working at the Colliery. Although a blacksmith by trade Mr Ferguson did spend some time working in the boiler house. One of Mr Ferguson’s jobs was to clean the gaskets on the pipework. The gaskets were referred to as “wheezes”. These gaskets were made from asbestos and Mr Ferguson would clean them using a wire brush, which generated asbestos dust into the atmosphere.
Sadly Mr Ferguson died some three months after we were instructed. Having obtained copies of his medical records it became clear that although mesothelioma was suspected during his life there was no definitive diagnosis. A post-mortem was carried out and mesothelioma was confirmed.
We were instructed by Mr Ferguson’s son to continue with the claim for the benefit of his mother, Mr Ferguson’s widow.
As liability was not admitted proceedings were issued against the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the successors in title to the NCB. Liability was then formally denied on the basis that if the late Mr Ferguson was exposed to asbestos, which was not admitted, any exposure would have been minimal and at the time of his employment would have been considered a “safe” level of exposure.
Engineering experts were instructed by both sides and the case listed for trial at the end of April 2018. The claim settled one week before the trial was due to commence for a sum in excess of £100,000.
It was a battle throughout but we were delighted for the family and that justice had been done for the late Mr Ferguson. When our client told his mother that the claim had settled he said, “She just couldn’t believe what was happening. Can you imagine someone who really hasn’t had anything, even though they worked hard all their lives, to know now that she is secure? She would like to thank you so much for everything you’ve done and I can’t thank you enough for your belief, your professionalism and empathy”.
If you ahve been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease and require any further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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