The widow of a pleural plaques sufferer who went on to die from asbestos related lung cancer has received £91,000 in compensation with help from the trade union Unite.

The lady from Ellesmere Port, who does not wish to be named, said it was important to her husband that she pursued the claim. The final award of compensation was paid in settlement of the claim against six of his former employers.

Her husband worked as a thermal insulation engineer (known as a lagger) for William Kenyon & Sons Ltd, Harland & Woolf Plc, Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd, Cape Darlington Ltd, Thomas Platt & Sons (Widnes) Ltd and Joseph Nadin Contracting Ltd, all based in Liverpool, from 1951 to 1961.

Exposed to asbestos at work

He was exposed to asbestos on a daily basis but was never warned about the dangers.

In the 1990s he was diagnosed with pleural plaques, a scarring of the lining of the lungs. At the time compensation could still be claimed for the condition.

He contacted his union who referred him to asbestos claim specialists Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons Solicitors was successful in settling his pleural plaques claim in 1996 on a provisional basis, allowing him to claim further compensation if he developed a more serious asbestos related condition.

Diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer

In May 2007 the father of three and granddad of four was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer. He died just two months later in August 2007.

Unite instructed Thompsons to investigate a further claim for compensation on behalf of his widow.

She said: “When my husband was diagnosed with pleural plaques it was always at the back of his mind that he might go on to develop a fatal disease. When he was finally diagnosed, time seemed to go so quick. He didn’t have long at all.

“He felt strongly about claiming compensation. We have a disabled son and two other children and he wanted to make sure they would be ok.”

Life cut short by asbestos related disease

Paul Finegan, Unite North West Regional Secretary said: “This case shows the importance of recognising pleural plaques as a compensatable disease and how a provisional settlement can help the family receive compensation more easily if the worst happens. The current law in England means people with pleural plaques who live in fear they will go on to develop a fatal asbestos-related conditions cannot claim compensation and if they do go on to develop them they have to start the claim from scratch .”

Gill Owen from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This client worked hard to provide for his family. His life was cut short by asbestos related disease. He was extremely concerned about the welfare of his children, in particular his disabled son. His union supported the claim for pleural plaques in 1996 and was there again to provide legal assistance when it was needed after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The fact that we had obtained a court order in the pleural plaques claim meant the claim for lung cancer could be dealt with more efficiently.”