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Lethal asbestos exposure settlement for former plumbers’ mate

A man who came into contact with lethal asbestos over just six months working as a plumbers’ merchant labourer has secured a substantial settlement after he developed mesothelioma, a fatal cancer caused by asbestos, in retirement.

Posted on 26 July 2022

The man, who we will call David, began to experience breathlessness and a persistent cough in late 2020, more than 30 years after his exposure to asbestos, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2021.

Specialist asbestos claims solicitors at law firm Leigh Day took up David’s case and quickly secured an admission of liability from his former employer J&J Gaffey in Salford, who agreed to pay £200,000 as well as costs of future treatment.

David, now aged 69, worked at J&J Gaffey Ltd when he was in his mid 30s, in 1988. His job involved delivering plumbing stock to building sites at domestic properties around the North West and helping plumbers in demolition and removal of piles of rubble. During work on site David had heavy exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.

As a labourer at the building sites, David’s work included removing old fireplaces with sheets of asbestos which he took out and broke up. He also had to remove rubble, old pipes, downspouts and pieces of board and load them into skips or into the back of the company van. He would drive the materials to J&J Gaffey’s yard, where he would throw them in the company’s skips.

David would sweep the back of the van every night to get rid of the dust, which increased his exposure to dangerous asbestos dust and fibres.

David was never warned that the substance he was working with was dangerous. He was never provided with protective equipment to prevent him breathing in asbestos dust and no attempts were made to limit his exposure to asbestos dust.

David said:

“I had no idea when I worked at J&J Gaffey that the job would turn out to have been so dangerous and cause me such harm. I am glad to have secured a settlement that will go some way to helping me deal with the consequences of my exposure to asbestos all those years ago.”

Leigh Day solicitor Steven Dickens said:

“David should never have been asked to handle asbestos containing material in the manner he did. To do so in 1988 was in breach of regulations that were made more stringent only a year earlier. His employer treated him with contempt in failing to secure his safety.

“J&J Gaffey admitted liability and agreed to pay David a settlement and to cover future costs of his treatment. The case highlights that even in the late 1980s, after the risks associated with asbestos were widely known, employers were continuing to act in a dangerous and reckless manner exposing their staff to deadly harm.”

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Steven Dickens
Asbestos and mesothelioma

Steven Dickens

Leading Manchester and North East mesothelioma claims lawyer

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