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Mesothelioma – Sean’s story

Posted on 14 June 2024

In 2019 we were asked to represent Sean Smith  who had, unusually, been diagnosed with both pleural (lung) and peritoneal (stomach) mesothelioma. Sean had been exposed to asbestos when working as a mechanic in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, from 1987/88 – 1994/95, changing car and lorry brakes. His employers argued that by the 1980’s brake linings were asbestos free but Sean gave strong evidence that he collected the brakes from a specific company that used to reline them with asbestos linings, explaining that most mechanics preferred these, to avoid squealing brakes. Sean sadly passed away despite being on the ATOMIC Trial involving immunotherapy. His wife, Susan, fought on, on his behalf.

Court proceedings were brought and the insurers quickly conceded liability. Sean had discovered he had a familial SDHB gene mutation (which predisposes a person to renal cell carcinoma) at the same time that he was being investigated for mesothelioma. He also had a renal lesion which, due to the mesothelioma, was never investigated or treated further. Both could have impacted on Sean’s life expectancy had he not developed mesothelioma and consequently, the value of the claim. We obtained expert evidence however, from a geneticist and from Susan, that Sean would have opted for genetic testing and surveillance had he not died prematurely from mesothelioma, this resulted in the value of the claim increasing significantly. Negotiations followed and the claim settled for a six figure sum.

Susan sent the following message: “Thank you for all your kindness, patience, care and tenacity in fighting Sean’s claim. I know there will be others that will follow in our footsteps and receive the devastating news……if they choose you Helen to fight their case, they will be in the safest hands possible…”

Susan has continued to raise awareness about mesothelioma in her local community and has established the Sean Smith Foundation which, through various activities, raises funds for the Hope Cancer Trials Centre in Leicester, an internationally renowned trials unit, dedicated to developing and delivering the most advanced therapies and techniques to its patients.