£20K settlement after asbestos disease diagnosis

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Specialist asbestos disease law firm Novum Law has just helped a Bournemouth man secure £20K compensation after he was diagnosed with the chronic asbestos-related condition ‘pleural thickening’.

Michael Burden aged 71, a former electrician from Wimborne Minster, who is still employed and works in the Estates Department at the Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, was diagnosed with the disease in 2012.

His pleural thickening was diagnosed almost completely by accident when he fell downstairs at home, fracturing his ribs. Chest x-rays at Poole Hospital revealed fluid on his lungs and further tests showed he had thickening of the pleura (the lining surrounding the lungs).

The condition is most often caused by long-term exposure and inhalation of asbestos particles which settle on the pleura, causing the area to thicken, calcify and/or scar. The thickening of the membrane makes it become constricted and less elastic. Sadly the damage is irreversible and causes reduced lung function, chest pain, breathlessness and persistent coughing in sufferers. It can lead to potentially fatal diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer.

Michael was exposed to asbestos dust while working as an electrician at Bournemouth electrical services firm PED Allum Limited formerly Ringwood Electrical Co Ltd. He joined the company in 1960 as an apprentice and subsequently was employed as a qualified electrician by the firm until 1980. He often worked in roof spaces that contained asbestos-lagged pipework and also worked repairing electrics alongside men cutting asbestos slates and tiles. He also installed night storage heaters which contained insulation material made from asbestos fibres.

Later in his career he was also exposed to asbestos while working at Stelrad Group Limited, a manufacturer and supplier of radiators, from 1980 to 1991. While employed by Stelrad, Michael helped to maintain and repair fuses in electrical switchgear. The fuses were covered with fibrous asbestos shields/sleeves.

Michael initially received advice from the asbestos support group HASAG which helps and advises all those affected by exposure to asbestos throughout the South of England. He then instructed specialist asbestos disease lawyer Lynn Yeates to pursue a civil claim for damages.

Lynn Yeates, Partner at Novum Law, said: “Michael’s case was not straightforward due to the fact that two companies were involved in his asbestos exposure, one of which had changed name and was subsequently dissolved many years previously. We had to do a lot of investigative work to uncover evidence and locate his former employer’s insurers.

“Pleural thickening is a debilitating condition affecting sufferers’ quality of life and unfortunately, there is no cure. The £20,000 compensation is a great result for Michael as the case has been settled on a ‘provisional damages’ basis. What this means is that if he goes on to develop more serious, potentially fatal diseases as a result of his asbestos exposure, he will be entitled to claim further compensation to ensure he and his family are financially secure whatever the future may hold.

“The overriding message for anyone who has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease or has a family member who has been affected by exposure to asbestos, is that it may be possible to claim compensation, even if former employers are no longer in business. It’s important that you speak to a specialist asbestos disease solicitor who has the experience and expertise to help with your claim.”

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