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£1m for family of man whose childhood contact with British Rail asbestos killed him

A widow has been awarded almost £1 million after her husband died of cancer caused by childhood contact with asbestos on the clothing of his father, a former British Rail worker.

Posted on 17 September 2021

Andrew Godwin was exposed to asbestos as a child, when his father, an engine fitter with British Rail, returned home from work with substantial amounts of asbestos on his clothes.

Before he began to suffer the symptoms of asbestos exposure, Andrew was healthy and well, leading an active life and working full time.

However, at the age of 56 he developed breathlessness and following tests, was informed he had mesothelioma.

Andrew’s recollection of his father’s work was limited but a former colleague was able to give a detailed witness statement which confirmed that Andrew’s father worked with asbestos whilst maintaining the steam engines at Ebbw Junction in Wales from 1961 to 1982.

He frequently removed asbestos from the steam locomotives which caused him to become covered in asbestos dust which he then unknowingly took home on his clothes.

The Defendant, whose liabilities are now dealt with by the Department for Transport admitted liability while Andrew was still alive.

Andrew died aged 58 in 2019 before the claim was settled leaving behind a wife and a son and daughter aged 27 and 30 respectively at the time. Andrew’s wife was able to continue with the legal case.

As Andrew was quite young when he was diagnosed and had a successful career, the widow’s claim settled out of court with the Defendant for just under £1 million. This figure included a substantial sum for the dependency claim and payment for immunotherapy treatment which Andrew had undertaken during his lifetime after his legal claim commenced.

Vijay Ganapathy, partner in the industrial diseases team at Leigh Day, represented the widow. He said

“This case highlights the widespread use of asbestos within trains. Asbestos was commonly used in the thermal insulation and fireproofing of train engines and train carriages across the UK before the deadly material was banned.”

Vijay Ganapathy
Asbestos and mesothelioma Industrial disease Spinal injury

Vijay Ganapathy

Vijay is a partner who specialises in industrial disease and complex injury cases.

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Mesothelioma claims

Thousands of people are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases annually, including mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the pleural lining of the lungs and almost exclusively caused by asbestos