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Family of UK ex-pat who died from asbestos exposure receive six-figure settlement

A family has received compensation after their father, a heating engineer called Geoff, died from the asbestos-related respiratory condition, mesothelioma.

Posted on 01 November 2023

Geoff, who grew up in London, died aged 76 at the St John of God Murdoch Community Hospice in Western Australia. His family’s claim was brought in the UK against a former employer where it is believed Geoff came into contact with asbestos.

Throughout the 1960s, before emigrating to Australia in 1971, Geoff worked for London based heating and ventilation engineering company J Jeffreys & Co Limited. He was taken on first as an apprentice and then as a fully qualified heating and ventilation engineer.

Geoff worked at sites across London and the Home Counties refurbishing heating and ventilation systems or installing new ones. As part of this work, he was required to remove old asbestos insulation from pipes and boilers in order to access the metalwork underneath and then sweep up the asbestos debris from the floor afterwards. He also had to mix up dry asbestos powder with water to make a paste to apply to the pipes as lagging. These tasks resulted in clouds of asbestos dust being dispersed in the air around Geoff whilst he worked.

One of the jobs Geoff recalled well was at a hotel in London where he was required to map out the location of all the boilers and pipes in the building. The asbestos lagging on the boilers and pipes was old, dusty and crumbling and as they were located in confined spaces Geoff could not help but brush past and scrape alongside this when he was inspecting and measuring up.

Geoff reported that he was never provided with any protective clothing or respiratory equipment nor given any warnings about the dangers of working with asbestos.

Geoff emigrated to Perth in Western Australia in 1971 when he was aged 25 and undertook a number of jobs until approximately 1979 when he decided to retrain as a teacher. He worked as a school teacher until his retirement.

At the age of 75, Geoff was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs. He instructed Vijay Ganapathy at Leigh Day shortly after his diagnosis.

The insurer of J Jeffreys & Co Limited was located and a Letter of Claim was sent. Expert medical evidence was obtained which confirmed that Geoff’s mesothelioma was caused by his exposure to asbestos whilst employed with the company.

Negotiations with the Defendant began, and breach of duty was admitted. Unfortunately, shortly after this Geoff’s health deteriorated rapidly and he died on 1 October 2022. The family continued with the claim following Geoff’s death and the claim settled out of court for a six figure settlement.

Vijay Ganapathy, a partner in the industrial disease team at Leigh Day said:

“Geoff’s story of how he was exposed to asbestos is unfortunately all too familiar and highlights the widespread presence of asbestos in the places he worked. I am pleased that the Defendant accepted fault during Geoff’s lifetime and that his family have received a substantial settlement, however, this will never be a replacement for the suffering he endured or the family’s loss.”

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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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