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Novum Law has secured compensation for the wife and family of Paul*, a former electrical fitter from Penzance in West Cornwall who was exposed to asbestos at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth.
Paul worked on-board ships and submarines as they were refitted at Devonport Dockyard.
Starting as an apprentice, he went on to become a fully qualified electrical fitter after completing his training. He worked on various vessels including HMS Dundas, Ark Royal, Eagle, Tiger and Belfast.
Paul spent most of his time in boiler and engine rooms. As he worked, laggers stripped asbestos-covered pipework above him. The asbestos fragments and dust they knocked off would drop down to where he was working.
The conditions onboard the ships and submarines were very dusty, and once lagging had been removed, it was not cleared up and was often left around the ships.
Laggers, engineers, electrical fitters like Paul, and other shipbuilding workers would breathe in the asbestos fibres and dust that resulted. At times, according to Paul, the amount of asbestos that floated around during refits was as heavy as a snowstorm.
Sadly, Paul has spent many of his later years dealing with the consequences of his asbestos exposure while working at Devonport.
In 2005 he was diagnosed with the benign (non-cancerous) asbestos condition pleural thickening, and made an asbestos disease compensation claim with another firm of solicitors.
Paul’s initial pleural thickening claim was settled with the Ministry of Defence (his former employer at Devonport) on a provisional basis. This meant that if his condition worsened, or if he developed a new asbestos-related disease such as lung cancer or mesothelioma, he would be able to return for further compensation.
Unfortunately, Paul’s earlier fears were confirmed as his condition worsened in 2019.
Following a period of illness and a cough, Paul went to his GP. He was referred to hospital for an X-ray where a tumour was identified, and a biopsy later confirmed he had small cell lung cancer. The hospital noted a significant history of asbestos exposure during his employment at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth.
Paul was aware he would be able to make a further compensation claim following his serious asbestos-related lung cancer diagnosis. He chose Novum Law from a list of asbestos claim specialists given to him at the hospital, and expert lawyer Brigit Nolan took on his case.
Tragically, Paul died as a result of his lung cancer before his claim was concluded. However, his executor continued with the claim on his behalf and a substantial settlement was agreed with the Ministry of Defence.
The compensation accounted for Paul’s pain and suffering caused by his asbestos-related lung cancer. It also covered financial support for his wife, so that she did not have to worry about finances in addition to the trauma of losing her husband in such tragic circumstances.
Brigit Nolan says:
“Paul’s case highlights the importance of what is known as a ‘provisional settlement order’ when someone is diagnosed with an asbestos disease that may develop further.
“Paul’s previous solicitors from 2005 understood that pleural thickening was unfortunately not necessarily the only asbestos disease he would face.
“By leaving the door open for a further claim later on, it allowed Novum Law to pick up Paul’s case and ensure that he and his loved ones were able to access justice and compensation following his devastating asbestos lung cancer diagnosis.”
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos disease after working in a dockyard or in shipbuilding, support is available. But don’t leave it too late: you typically have just 3 years to start a claim following your diagnosis.
Novum Law’s expert team can help you access the compensation you and your family need on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis.
*Client name has been changed to protect privacy
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