15 July 2021 | Case Study | Article by Natalia Rushworth-White

Case Study: Council worker received damages from his late wife's exposure to asbestos dust

Mrs W was employed by her local Council in a clerical facility. The Council buildings contained asbestos which was disturbed by Council workers carrying out routine repair and maintenance works. The workers then unwittingly transferred the dust into Mrs W’s breathing space, as a result of which she developed peritoneal mesothelioma from which she sadly passed away in 2019.

Despite evidence as to asbestos use within their buildings, the Council did not initially accept responsibility for Mrs W’s illness and so we were required to issue proceedings at Court. Liability was subsequently admitted shortly before the first hearing and a six figure damages payment was made to Mr W. Mrs W had still been working at the time of her diagnosis and was the main breadwinner for the couple, so the payment will help to provide for Mr W’s financial security into the future

The importance of this case is that it arose from the fabric of the building, so Mrs W didn't work with asbestos materials herself, but was exposed to dust released from others working at the council. It’s also very poignant that it was whilst working for the council that she met her husband Mr W, but that this work eventually led to her developing mesothelioma.

Natalia Rushworth-White, Senior Associate at Hugh James, said:

This case highlights the need for proper precautions to be taken by workers in buildings known to contain asbestos – Mrs W’s illness was entirely preventable and she would never have come into contact with asbestos fibres had the Council educated their workers as to the correct way to handle and dispose of asbestos materials.

Client, Mr W, said:

Thank you so much for your patience and kindness and everything that you have done for me and my family.

No one is safe from the potential risks posed by asbestos within buildings in which they live, work and study, which is why we call for proper education of anyone working with asbestos materials, and the safe removal of asbestos from contaminated buildings.

If you, like Mr C, have developed an asbestos related illness then contact Hugh James’ Asbestos Disease team today, as they may be able to help.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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