Mr W, who was aged 70, experienced a sudden deterioration in his health. On 9 June he was admitted to the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington due to breathlessness. A biopsy performed the following day confirmed he had pleural sarcomatoid mesothelioma. He died on 17 June, the day before his 71st birthday, having not approached solicitors. He had not given a witness statement describing his asbestos exposure.
Oliver Chapman at Thomson Snell & Passmore was subsequently instructed by Mr W’s widow who explained that, Mr W had been exposed to significant quantities of asbestos whilst working with a number of his brothers and nephews for a company called ID System Heating Limited. She thought that exposure occurred between about 1979 and 1981. They had been married since 1966 and she knew of no other possible exposure.
It transpired that one of Mr W’s older brothers, with whom Mr W had worked at ID System Heating Limited, had also developed mesothelioma and died in 2005. Mrs W understood that the older brother had brought a successful civil claim against ID System Heating.
Oliver applied for the brother’s solicitor’s file as well as Mr W’s HM Revenue & Customs employment history. We met with several of Mr W’s surviving brothers who confirmed that they had all been exposed to substantial quantities of asbestos dust, on a daily basis, whilst employed by ID System Heating. They explained that numerous members of their family had worked for that company.
ID System Heating did contract work for the London Borough of Southwark on the district heating schemes which heated various large housing estates across the borough. It was clear that Mr W had been exposed to very substantial quantities of asbestos dust during the course of that employment. It was also clear that Mr W had not been provided with any protective equipment to reduce the risk of working in those conditions.
Several brothers and nephews gave statements describing the extent of Mr W’s asbestos exposure. As that exposure occurred between 1979 and 1981, Oliver considered that Mrs W had an extremely strong case against ID System Heating.
Unfortunately, after much research, we did not consider that ID System Heating had the means to meet a successful claim as it had gone into liquidation in 1991. There was therefore no live company, with any assets, which could be sued. Checks into whether there was any employer’s liability insurance were also fruitless.
Mr W’s brother’s claim had had the same difficulties and instead he had bought a claim against London Borough of Southwark, with whom he was employed after his time at ID System Heating. It was not possible for us to bring a claim against London Borough of Southwark, as Mr W had not been employed by them.
In the circumstances we recommended that Mrs W apply for a payment in accordance with the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme and put together a pack of statements in support of her application. The application was successful and she received a fixed payment of £160,685.
Oliver Chapman, a specialist industrial disease lawyer acting for claimants, succeeded in obtaining compensation for Mrs W. If you would like to ask Oliver Chapman a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about industrial disease cases, please contact him at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701234 in confidence.