March 7, 2017

£230,000 in compensation for the family of a former Swindon Railway Works apprentice

Mr M was exposed to asbestos while employed by Swindon Railway Works, part of British Rail. He started working for British Rail when he left school at the age of 15. He passed his trial period and commenced an apprenticeship as a fitter, turner and erector in 1962. His apprenticeship concluded in 1967 and he remained employed by the Railway Works until 1972. Mr M worked on brake mechanisms having to chip off old asbestos brake linings. He also had to fit new brake linings which had to be chamfered to fit the brakes correctly and he had to re-fit them in to place. The new brake linings were made from asbestos. Chamfering them caused him to be exposed to asbestos dust and fibres.

Mr M also worked alongside others who were using asbestos. Some of his colleagues had to mix raw asbestos with water to form a paste and apply lagging to pipes and boilers in steam locomotives. He also worked in close proximity to carpenters, and one of their tasks was to cut and drill asbestos insulation boards which were used in those days to line train cabins.

Jennifer visited Mr M at home to obtain the relevant information about his working history. After speaking with him, she issued a letter of claim to the Department for Transport which now deals with claims against British Rail. The Department for Transport admitted liability within a matter of days. It was then necessary to obtain a medical report from an asbestos specialist to link Mr M’s asbestos exposure to his condition. Once we had the report, we sent it to the Department for Transport who then made Mr M an interim payment of £50,000.

We then set about gathering information to assess the value of Mr M’s claim so that we could to advise him how best to seek settlement. Mr M was clear that if possible, he wanted to settle his claim during his lifetime, even though we advised him that his claim would be more valuable if settled after his lifetime, in his wife’s name.

We were able to negotiate settlement of his claim during his lifetime but for an enhanced rate, close to what the value would have been if his claim had settled on a fatal basis.

We were also able to recover costs incurred by Prospect Hospice in Swindon to the sum of £14,500. The Hospice provided Mr M with care and support throughout the course of his illness, so we thought it important that their costs be recovered.

Sadly Mr M passed away days after the settlement offer was negotiated, however he died in the knowledge that his wife and family would be financially cared for. The claim was settled in just over eight months from the date Mr M instructed us.

Jennifer Seavor said, “Mr M was a lovely man who had worked extremely hard all of his life. It was devastating for him and his family when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2016, aged only 70. The condition robbed him of an additional 18 years of life, and while no amount of money can truly compensate his family for their loss, the settlement has ensured that his wife is financially secure.”

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