October 23, 2023

Family of former Crown Packaging employee recover compensation following death from mesothelioma

Posted in Mesothelioma

Mr D spent his entire working life with Crown Packaging, formerly known as Metal Box and Carnaud Metal Box, at their Perry Wood site in Worcester. He worked for the company between 1960 and 2008 in various roles.

Sadly, in February 2021 Mr D died from mesothelioma, a type of cancer which is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. His widow and family did not know for certain how Mr D had come in to contact with asbestos, but as he had spent his entire working life with one company, they thought he must have been exposed during the course of his employment. When he was diagnosed shortly before his passing, he had mentioned to his consultant about cleaning ovens at the Metal Box premises and that it must have been from that. However, he was sadly too unwell to provide more detail or seek legal advice at the time. Naturally Mr D’s family wanted some answers to their questions about how Mr D had been exposed to asbestos which had led to his premature death. His family started on a journey to discover this and try to obtain some justice for him.

Mr D’s family instructed Jennifer Seavor in our specialist asbestos claims team. We had previously pursued a similar claim against the same company for a client who was exposed to asbestos dust and fibres at another factory operated by Metal Box, so were already in possession of some helpful statements and documents which could assist with the claim.

However, we needed to prove the specific circumstances in which Mr D had come in to contact with asbestos during his work, and link that to the development of his mesothelioma. Mr D’s family were helpfully able to give us names of men who had previously worked with Mr D and we therefore started interviewing and taking witness statements from them. Many people we spoke to had different recollections. The company’s premises were huge, and Mr D had changed roles several times over the years. We needed to create a timeline of the work he had done and pinpoint when his exposure had occurred.

Many witnesses we spoke to were able to give us additional names of other potential witnesses and we traced them and interviewed them too. It took significant time but through the recollections and helpfulness of men who had worked with Mr D, we were able to build up a picture of his working life and discovered that he had been exposed to asbestos in a number of ways whilst working for the company over the years. One of his jobs included cleaning the inside of three large ovens at the factory, which contained asbestos materials. There had been an incident when one of the ovens had exploded and staff were involved in the clean up operation. There were also significant asbestos materials throughout the premises, such as lagging on pipework and corrugated roof sheeting. Repairs and maintenance work were routinely carried out, which disturbed asbestos dust and fibres. The premises were in poor condition and the environment was generally dusty. Health and safety was not seen as a priority. No masks or training regarding the dangers of asbestos was provided to employees.

Whilst the witness evidence was collated, a letter of claim was sent to Crown Packaging the successors of Metal Box to notify them of the claim. Their insurers were subsequently provided with copies of all the witness statements obtained, as well as medical evidence in support of the claim.

After sight of all the evidence, breach of duty was admitted by the insurers, followed shortly by a full admission of liability once supportive medical evidence was obtained and disclosed. The parties then entered into negotiations to settle the claim and Mr D’s family accepted an offer of settlement of £245,500.

Sadly, Mr D’s story is another one which shows how failures of large companies to manage asbestos containing materials in their premises can lead to employees having exposures which decades later, causes them to suffer illnesses which were avoidable. It is worrying to think how many others may have been impacted in a similar way to Mr D, who is sorely missed by his loving family and friends.

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