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Joseph Green died in February 2020 aged 97 just a few months after his diagnosis which was made by X-ray and employment history rather than lung biopsy as he was too frail to undergo the procedure. However, a post mortem confirmed the cause of death as malignant mesothelioma.
Mr Green, a carpenter, had worked widely in the West Midlands including for P McGing Contractors Limited dismantling temporary school buildings, from around 1968 to 1987, when he retired.
He had not thought of contacting solicitors but at the inquest into his death the Coroner suggested the family take legal advice and were recommended Shoosmiths by a cancer charity.
Shoosmiths is very experienced in asbestos-related and industrial disease claims, particularly involving mesothelioma, a cancer of the mesothelium – the thin membrane that lines the chest and abdomen and surrounds the organs in those parts of the body.
Usually in such a case, a statement is taken from the person making the claim detailing their work experiences and exposure to asbestos dust.
Instead, as Shoosmiths were instructed after his death, with no first hand evidence, solicitors had to build a detailed picture from Mr Green’s children and from his doctors, based on what he had told them, called hearsay evidence.
The case was further complicated as the company P McGing Contractors Limited was no longer trading, but Shoosmiths was able to identify their insurers on cover at the time of exposure and pursue the claimed against them.
Today it is Mesothelioma Awareness Day (Sept 26) which is marked to remind people of the signs and symptoms of this devastating condition which can only come to light years after exposure.
Sharine Burgess, who is based at Shoosmiths’ Northampton Office, said:
“The case was interesting because we had no lifetime statement from the Deceased as we were instructed after he had passed away so the case was advanced on largely hearsay evidence from the family.
“Although liability was denied, settlement was negotiated within 13 months of instruction.”
The family was very satisfied that the claim had been settled in the estate’s favour despite the death of Mr Green.
Mr Green’s daughter said:
“The whole experience for me and my family was exceptional. Sharine Burgess was so easy to talk to, kept us updated regularly with what was happening. Thoroughly recommend this company.”
Mesothelioma is incurable and is inevitably fatal – death usually occurs within 12-18 months of diagnosis. It can take around 10-20 years before symptoms become ‘clinically manifest’ but it can be as long as 50 years before they become apparent. Once diagnosed, it is usually too late for anything other than any palliative treatment.
The symptoms of mesothelioma can include:
Sharine Burgess added:
“It’s important for people to realise that, even if it's someone passed away, a cause of action may remain and a claim can be investigated and brought in the right circumstances.”