Compensation for woman exposed to asbestos after washing her stepfather’s work overalls

Shirley Churcher contracted mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, after years of washing her stepfather’s work overalls.

He worked at the Devonport Dockyard, then at the Royal Naval Hospital in Plymouth as a fitter. When he came home after a long day at work covered in dust, Shirley would shake out her stepfather’s overalls before washing them. The asbestos dust would be released into the air and tragically, breathed in by Shirley.

Decades later, Shirley developed a persistent cough that wouldn’t go away. After about nine months, her family insisted she go to the doctor and ask for an X-ray. She was referred to an oncologist who gave her the dreadful news that she had mesothelioma.

Her daughter Wendy Ware picks up the story:

“I was devastated when mum was diagnosed with mesothelioma, not least because her stepfather (my grandfather) had died of an asbestos disease and I just couldn’t believe she would have to go through the same pain and distress.

“I read a leaflet written by Novum Law describing its specialist asbestos team’s success in making compensation claims for women diagnosed with mesothelioma. It explained how Novum Law had a strong track record helping women exposed to asbestos second hand by washing loved one’s work clothes. I gave the leaflet to mum and she felt it would be a good idea to call and just see what came of it; she had absolutely nothing to lose.”

When Shirley met specialist asbestos disease solicitor Andrew Stinchcombe she immediately felt at ease. As she explains in a video she recorded with Novum Law:

“Andrew was so gentle and caring, he asked me questions but wasn’t aggressive. I thought, ‘I’ve done the right thing now, I’ve picked the right one.’

“I couldn’t think where I had been exposed to asbestos, but when I said my dad had got it (mesothelioma) but that was a few years ago now, (we realised that) the fact I did my dad’s washing meant the asbestos was coming out of his overalls.”

Andrew made a successful mesothelioma compensation claim against the Government, securing a six-figure settlement for Shirley and her family.

Shirley said:

“I got a stair lift (with some of the money). I can go up and down the stairs to the toilet or go for a lie down. It’s been great.

“You need to be very selective with who you choose solicitor-wise and carer-wise and I think I did the best thing ever.”

Tragically, Shirley died a few months after our video was recorded but her family are pleased that she can still raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and the importance of getting legal support from a specialist asbestos disease solicitor.

Her daughter Wendy explains:

“Money isn’t everything but for the first time, mum felt she didn’t have to worry about finances. More importantly, Novum Law helped to highlight how women can contract mesothelioma even though they have not been in direct contact with asbestos.

“I think the single most important thing for my mum and us as a family was Novum Law’s approach. You made mum feel her case was important and that she was in safe hands. Novum Law’s down to earth, professional and courteous manner, the regular communication and reassurance provided, took all the worry out of the compensation process. We knew we could trust Novum Law to do all the hard work to get us justice.

“Novum Law gave mum so much reassurance, helping her feel supported and safe. She was amazed with the outcome and how easy Novum Law made it for her to make a compensation claim. Thank you so much.”


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