Unite Legal Services secures £245,000 for member with asbestos-related cancer

A Unite member from South Yorkshire who was exposed to asbestos has been awarded £245,000 compensation after he developed mesothelioma.

The 64-year-old father of two started work in 1966 for a rail company as a trainee cleaner and fireman.

In this role he was responsible for delivering correspondence to various teams around the train depot. One of the places that he delivered to was the train maintenance shed, an area he was also asked to clean regularly.

After 18 months of training he was promoted to fireman, working on the footplate of the trains. At the time, diesel trains were insulated with asbestos, which would be stripped during repairs and maintenance.

He worked on the railway for three years and then left to join the Royal Air Force as an aircraft engineer, and later became a software designer at an IT company. He married, had two children and now has five grandchildren.

The member first noticed problems with his breathing in July 2014, when he travelling to Cyprus on holiday. During his trip, he also struggled to breathe while snorkelling.

On his return the member saw his GP and was sent for a scan, which found that his lung was filled with fluid. At hospital, his lung was drained and he was sent for a biopsy. In December 2014, it was confirmed that he had asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

He contacted Unite Legal Services to make a claim for compensation on his behalf. An investigation into his work history was carried out to identify when the exposure to asbestos had taken place.

The member said: “My diagnosis was a huge bombshell for me and my whole family. At the moment I feel well in myself but I don’t want to know the long-term prognosis because I’d rather make the most of the time I have, instead of lingering on it. It’s been a really traumatic time getting used to the thought of my illness, my son even moved his wedding forward so I could be there.

“I really worried that the legal process would be traumatic, but it wasn’t at all. Unite Legal Services dealt with my case so sympathetically and professionally throughout, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.”

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union said: “The devastating effects of asbestos disease are clear – it is unacceptable that workers pay the price for negligent employers and unsafe working conditions.

“The diagnosis is distressing for the individual as well as those nearest and dearest to them. At this time, the importance of turning to specialist legal experts in this complex area of law should not be underestimated. We made sure that our member received full compensation quickly and is now able to spend valuable time with his family knowing that they are financially secure.”