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Former Imperial Chemical Industries Limited employee secures settlement following diagnosis with asbestos-related cancer

A former Harrogate factory worker at Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (ICI) has received a substantial sum from the company due to his exposure asbestos while working there throughout the 1960s and 70s, which led to him being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Posted on 14 August 2023

John Douthwaite, aged 78, worked for Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (ICI) at their Harrogate factory between 1960 and 1976. John started his apprenticeship with ICI in 1961 until 1966 before continuing as a central lathe turner until 1976.
 
During his apprenticeship, John had to remove and apply asbestos lagging on pipes. He used a hacksaw and Stanley knife to remove asbestos rope, and he wore asbestos gloves and aprons during this work.
 
After qualifying as a central lathe turner, John made asbestos plates by cutting asbestos sheets and machining blue asbestos bars. His work caused him to be covered in dust, which got all over his face and clothes. ICI had no mechanical filtration and provided no safety equipment to protect John.


John completing his apprenticeship in 1966.  
 
John and his family moved to Australia in 1989 and he continued working until his retirement in 2010.  He began experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains in late 2021 and in March 2022 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. He underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy and received extensive help from his family.
 
John had a long history of renovating properties which he continued after moving to Australia and into his retirement. When he developed symptoms of mesothelioma he was in the middle of renovating two properties and needed help to complete the work. He was no longer able to complete works he had planned which would have supported him and his wife in future years.
 
John approached Daniel Easton in the asbestos claims team at law firm Leigh Day to bring a legal claim on his behalf. After court proceedings were issued, ICI admitted liability and the claim was settled for a significant sum before trial. Given his ongoing medical treatment, ICI also agreed to fund for the cost of any future medical expenses John incurs. Due to John’s property investments and the refurbishments he had planned, Leigh Day worked with Australian lawyers to gather extensive evidence on his work, the properties he owned and his plans for the future, and involved a specialist accountant to help estimate the value of his losses. 
 
John said the following about Leigh Day asbestos claims partner Daniel Easton:

“You have exceeded our expectations. The professionalism, thoroughness, your unwavering patience and gentle approach with all the people involved was duly noted across the board. Your ability to work with people is a great asset to your profession. Thank you for all your hard work, which shows in the amazing result you have achieved.”
 
Daniel Easton said:
 
“I am pleased that we were able to settle John’s claim before trial and that ICI acknowledged their past negligence and admitted liability for putting John at risk throughout his time working for them. Mesothelioma is a devastating, incurable disease which has significantly affected John’s life and has prevented him from continuing with his plans for the future. It is difficult to predict how much profit will be made on property development, which makes claims like this very complicated, but by using the right experts and involving expert local lawyers, we were able to get a very successful result.  I hope that the settlement goes some way towards supporting John and his family and holding ICI accountable.”

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Daniel Easton

Daniel Easton

Joint head of the firm's asbestos and industrial diseases team and acknowledged as a leader in this field

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