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2 September 2019 | Comment | Article by Richard Green

Engineer’s job caused his lung cancer, not 40-a-day habit


The family of deceased ex-engineer Mickey Buckley has succeeded in their fight for justice against his negligent employer, despite initially believing that negligence would be difficult to prove.

Hugh James was able to obtain crucial medical evidence to show that Mickey, who passed away in 2013 only three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, died from asbestos-related lung cancer and not from a lifetime’s worth of heavy smoking.

Lawyers proved that the significant asbestos exposure that Mickey had suffered as part of his job with Bells Asbestos Ltd more than doubled his risk of developing lung cancer, which ultimately reduced his life expectancy by over a decade.

Mickey’s family is now urging others who are suffering or who have lost someone from an asbestos-related illness to persevere in their fight for justice even if they doubt their chances of success.

Mickey’s widow, Christine Buckley, said:Mickey had been a heavy smoker throughout his life, smoking around 40 cigarettes a day. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer and asbestos-related pleural plaques, we knew that his job with Bells Asbestos Ltd was to blame, but we doubted that we would ever be able to prove this connection as Mickey had always smoked. Our solicitor obtained medical evidence which was able to show that Mickey’s job directly contributed to his death as mixing the asbestos lagging doubled his risk of developing lung cancer. My family and I don’t want anyone else to suffer needlessly as Mickey did, just because he wasn’t protected at work. Hopefully, a case like this will show other sufferers that they may win justice even when the odds aren’t in their favour, and will stop employers endangering more lives.”

Mickey was employed as an insulation engineer or ‘lagger’ by a company called Bells Asbestos Ltd, now called Meggitt Properties Limited for four years between 1965 and 1969. His role involved the insulating or lagging of pipework with asbestos at a range of locations. He used asbestos products extensively in his work, including preformed asbestos insulation as well as bagged asbestos powder for insulation.

Mickey was exposed to asbestos when he mixed asbestos powder with water to make the insulation that he then applied to pipework by hand. Mickey was further exposed when using preformed asbestos to surround the pipes. Mixing asbestos powder and applying asbestos insulation released asbestos dust into the air which Mickey could not avoid breathing in.

In 2013, Mickey was diagnosed with pneumonia following an ongoing cough. In August 2013 Mickey had a CT scan which showed calcified pleural plaques, clear indicator of asbestos exposure. It was following this CT scan that Mickey was found to have lung cancer. His health then swiftly deteriorated until he sadly passed away only three months later in October 2013.

Hugh James presented the claim to Bells Asbestos who were unable to deny that they had negligently exposed Mickey to asbestos. Following a financial assessment of the medical evidence and associated losses, Hugh James negotiated a settlement with the legal representative of Bells Asbestos and recovered a substantial sum of money for Mickey’s wife and family.

Mr Buckley’s family came to us believing that they would never be able to win justice for his tragic death. Whilst financial compensation can never make up the loss that Mickey’s family have suffered, Hugh James passionately believes that employers who have negligently exposed individuals to asbestos should be held to account.

There are currently over 300 new cases of asbestos-related lung cancer annually and over 2,500 asbestos-related lung cancer deaths each year. It is a very real problem and sufferers and their families should not be afraid to ask for help.

Compensation can ease money worries at such a difficult time, make sufferers more comfortable or allow them to leave some money to their family once they are gone. We are pleased to have secured such a positive result for Mickey’s family.

Visit the Asbestos page for more information about the Hugh James Asbestos team or to get in touch.

Author bio

Richard is a Partner and head of the asbestos litigation team. Richard specialises in asbestos-related disease claims and has recovered millions of pounds in compensation for his clients.

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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