Posted by Emily Barratt, Solicitor
Compensation recovered for family following mum’s death from exposure to asbestos from her late husband’s work clothes
Our specialist asbestos claims team was contacted by Mrs Brookes’s family following her diagnosis of mesothelioma. Mrs Brookes had mild dementia and at the time of our visit, Mrs Brookes did not know of her diagnosis due to the upset it would have caused her. We attended Mrs Brookes at home to speak to her regarding her recollections of her husband’s work and asbestos. Despite how unwell she was, Mrs Brookes was ale to give us some information.
Mrs Brookes could not recall being exposed to asbestos throughout the course of her own employment, but her late husband had worked for a number of years at Harland & Wolff and Vosper Thorneycroft as a clerk of works at Southampton Docks. Her husband spent a lot of time on ships that came into the docks, organising maintenance and repair work. Mrs Brookes could remember her husband complaining about the dusty environment at the docks. Throughout her husband’s employment, Mrs Brookes washed his work clothes, initially by hand and later with a washing machine. Unknowingly, Mrs Brookes was exposed to the dust and fibres that transferred home on her husband’s work clothes.
Mrs Brookes was retired and in good health until she collapsed in church. She was taken to hospital where scans revealed a large tumour in her lung. Biopsies were taken and tests showed the tumour was a mesothelioma.
Following our visit we sent letters of claim to Harland & Wolff and Vosper Thorneycroft. Our asbestos team had previously acted for clients in claims against these companies and as such were able to seek their permission to rely on their witness evidence in Mrs Brookes’s claim.
We obtained Mrs Brookes’s medical records and instructed an expert to prepare a medical report. The medical report confirmed Mrs Brookes’s diagnosis and its likely cause. Sadly, Mrs Brookes’ health deteriorated and she passed away.
Mrs Brookes’s son decided to continue with the legal claim following his mother’s death and obtained a Grant of Probate to act on behalf of his mother’s Estate. Following Mrs Brookes’ death, updated medical evidence was obtained and a schedule of loss was drafted to set out all of the items of compensation to be claimed. The parties entered into a period of negotiations and the claim settled for a sum in excess of £80,000.
At the conclusion of the claim, Mrs Brookes’s son said “I recommend Royds Withy King without reservation or hesitation. My mother’s claim concerned how she contracted mesothelioma (washing my father’s work clothes). This historical case needed to be pursued in a determined and lengthy manner and the simple fact is, it would simply not have happened without the expertise and resources of RWK. Jennifer Seavor started the process and Emily Barratt brought it to a successful conclusion, everyone I dealt with at the company was polite, professional and helpful.”