May 22, 2019

Compensation recovered for family of Glaswegian man who died from mesothelioma

He developed shortness of breath in the spring of 2016 which did not improve.  Billy went to see his GP and was sent for a chest x-ray which showed that he had developed fluid on his lungs.  He had the fluid drained off and further tests were done.  He was then given the devastating news by his consultant that he had developed mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

At the time of his diagnosis, Billy was already residing in a nursing home in Govan in Glasgow due to mild dementia. He never married and had no children of his own. Following his diagnosis of mesothelioma he was concerned that he may require more specialist care and as such decided to pursue a claim.

Jennifer attended Billy at his nursing home in Glasgow in the presence of his nephew. Billy told Jennifer that he had worked in a number of ship yards over the years both in England and in Scotland. He had also worked for British Rail in the 1960s and for Darlington Insulation in the late 1970s.

In particular, his work for Vickers Armstrong at their ship yard in Barrow in Furness in Cumbria stuck out in Billy’s mind. He had worked there in the mid 1960s building civilian and war ships as well as submarines for the Royal Navy.  As a labourer, his job involved anything and everything.  However, he spent a lot of time helping plumbers and laggers.  Billy remembered fetching and carrying paper sacks of asbestos back and forth for the laggers to use and being present when they were mixing up asbestos lagging to apply it to pipework.

Billy told Jennifer that it was a very dusty environment. As the asbestos sacks were ripped open and the contents tipped into drums, there was a huge back lash of dust and there would be asbestos clouds in the air.  Back in those days, there was little health and safety and he wasn’t given any breathing protection or even warned about the dangers of asbestos exposure. He was also present when ships were being re-fitted and this often involved him assisting the plumbers to strip existing asbestos lagging so that repairs and maintenance could be done to the pipework.

Subsequently, Billy has worked for British Rail again as a labourer. His job involved cleaning up and sweeping asbestos containing materials that had been removed from the locomotives.

At Darlington Insulation again, he worked at various premises assisting with the stripping of asbestos lagging from pipes and boilers so repairs could be undertaken.

Billy told Jennifer that so many of his friends and former colleagues had suffered asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases. He said that in Glasgow they called it “the bug” as it had affected so many who had worked in the ship yards and in industry.

Sadly, Billy’s condition quickly deteriorated and although he tried to fight the disease, he sadly passed away on 29 December 2016. Following his death, he had a post mortem examination which confirmed mesothelioma.

Whilst Billy was never married and had no children, his next of kin was his sister Mary who decided to honour Billy’s wishes and continue with the claim. The case settled in early 2018.

Jennifer said “Billy was such a lovely man. It was heart breaking to see how mesothelioma affected him and the impact this had on his family, in particular his sister and his nephew who were devoted to him.  Like so many men from Billy’s generation, he worked incredibly hard his entire life only to be diagnosed with such an awful illness during his retirement.”

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