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Groundbreaking judgment as mesothelioma victim wins case against sugar factory as occupier

Specialist asbestos lawyer Harminder Bains succeeds with case for client told he had no claim

Mr & Mrs Baker

16 November 2012

A 65-year-old man from Spanby Road, London E3 in the East End of London has received compensation of £205,000 after a landmark judgment in which legal action was taken against the occupier of the factory in which he worked rather than against his employer. 

Mr Frank Baker worked as a lagger’s labourer for Climax Insulation & Packing Limited when he was just 16 in the early 1960’s. 

During this time he worked for five weeks at the Tate & Lyle sugar factory in Silvertown, London where he was exposed to asbestos. 
 In July 2011 Mr Baker was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a devastating cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and is caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. 

As Climax Insulation & Packing Limited has since ceased trading, efforts by previous lawyers for Mr Baker to locate the firm’s employer’s liability insurers proved unsuccessful. As a result, Mr Baker was told that he had no claim and that there was nothing they could do for him. 

Leigh Day & Co became involved in August 2012 and decided to take legal action, on behalf of Mr Baker, against Tate & Lyle as Mr Baker had been sent to work at the Tate & Lyle sugar-making factory when he was exposed to the deadly material.

In English Law it is usual to sue the employer, as it is the employer who owes a duty of care to the employee. Therefore, by suing Tate & Lyle as occupier it was a challenge to established legal principles.

Within three months of being instructed, Harminder Bains, a Partner in the personal injury team at Leigh Day & Co, won £205,000 compensation for Mr Baker.

Mr Baker said “I can’t thank Leigh Day & Co and Harminder enough for what they’ve done for me and my family, I can’t believe it”. 

Harminder said:
“This is the first time I have heard of a judgment being made against an occupier in a mesothelioma case. Despite the case being contested, the High Court was satisfied that Tate & Lyle owed a duty of care, as occupier of the building, to Mr Baker.

“This will open the door for other asbestos disease victims to make successful claims”. 

Ms Bains, whose own father was a victim of Mesothelioma continued: 
"This judgment has allowed Mr Baker to receive compensation within his lifetime and to pay for essential items to make his life more comfortable.”

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