Vauxhall Motors Electrician wins High Court Case
Helen Childs is head of our team of asbestos solicitors. She was instructed by Mrs C when she was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in 2017 aged 60 to see if there was an option of claiming compensation. Initially she thought there was little chance as she had not worked with directly with asbestos.
However, both her husband and father were in contact with asbestos at work. Her husband worked as an electrician at Vauxhall.
He was an apprentice and then a qualified electrician from 1973 for about 6 years at the Dunstable Truck division of Vauxhall Motors. In the summer the factory would shut down for general maintenance and repairs.
She had hoped that any compensation would help to provide for her family and to pay for any ongoing treatment.
Unfortunately, Mrs C died a year later in November 2018 from the disease.
Her husband recalled working with asbestos and that his clothing would often be covered in the dust when he returned from work. He often worked overtime and would work during the summer when the plant would for maintenance and repair work.
During the period, he would strip off asbestos from the pipework re-apply asbestos where necessary. He recalled that there were no showering facilities at the plant and no laundry service, so he would take his dust laden overalls home to be washed.
Vauxhall decided to defend the Mesothelioma claim
Mr C was devastated to think that he may have contributed to his wife's demise and decided to take Vauxhall to the High Court in the spring of 2018. For their part Vauxhall decided to defend the claim as they considered that there was little asbestos present at the plant in the time that Mr C worked there. They also stated that any work undertaken where there was asbestos present was done under strict conditions, with all necessary precautions taken. They considered it unlikely that he would have taken his clothes home to be laundered and produced thousands of pages of documentation of work that had been carried out.
Unfortunately Mrs C passed away just before the trial. A grieving Mr C decided to honour his wife's quest for justice and continue with the trial.
Mr C learnt recently that the trial to decide whether or not his former employers were responsible for his wife’s illness was decided in his favour. Judge Karen Walden-Smith said she was satisfied that Mr C had been exposed to significant quantities of asbestos dust which was transferred back home on his overalls.
On hearing the news Mr C said:-
“ Lydia and I met when we were teenagers and were married for more than 40 years. She was the lynchpin of our whole family. When she became unwell and was told that she was terminally ill her only concern was for her family, including her father who she used to care for. She was desperate to access treatment to prolong her life but sadly she died just a week before her trial was due to take place. The judgment in our favour is bittersweet. Obviously I am pleased that my former employers have been found responsible after allowing me – and potentially hundreds of others – to travel home contaminated with asbestos. However it is very difficult to contemplate that we have lost Lydia so many years too soon - and that her illness might have been prevented ”
“ I would like to sincerely thank both Helen and John Paul for their kindness and professionalism. They were often available 24/7 and were such a support to us, and at a time that was a 16 month Nightmare for me and my family they were both dedicated and above all sympathetic to our feelings. Thank you both ”
Conclusion from our lead solicitor
Our lead mesothelioma solicitor, Helen Childs, who represented the family said:
“ This has been a difficult case which was vigorously defended. The Carey family were courageous and dignified throughout and it has been my privilege to help them secure this judgment. Like me, they are relieved that at last some good will come from such a distressing situation and that Lydia’s family will be cared and provided for as she would have wished. Sadly asbestos can affect not only those workers who came into contact with it through their own employment, but also their family members, and employers should have appreciated the dangers of this from the mid 1960's. ”
“This is the first successful claim for such a family member to be decided at court in England. Mesothelioma is a rare illness but a continuing legacy of Britain’s industrial past. The treatment for mesothelioma is advancing very rapidly, and the only way for those affected to receive bespoke immunotherapy - the most promising treatment - is if they have private funding. Despite our very best endeavours, the judgment in this case was too late for Lydia to access this treatment, which is heartbreaking for her family. However her wishes to provide for and care for her family will be met. ”
“ We would encourage anyone who has any queries about a diagnosis of mesothelioma or about immunotherapy treatment to seek advice from a specialist mesothelioma solicitor ”
Click on the links to read some of the press coverage of the trial . . .