With the support of GMB union, asbestos compensation specialists Thompsons Solicitors has obtained substantial compensation for a former shipwright who has been diagnosed with a disabling lung condition.

Robert Kemp, 75, from Sunderland was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice and then time served shipwright for two Wear-based shipyards from the 1950s to 1980s.

When he began to suffer from a cough and chest pain in August 2010 he was told by doctors there was a 90% chance he had lung cancer. After a biopsy ruled out cancer he was diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening.

The former GMB union branch secretary has been left breathless with the condition and is now unable to walk long distances or carry out DIY.

He said: “This has had a huge impact on my life. It is very frustrating that I cannot do the things I used to be able to do. I am terrified that I will get asbestos cancer in the future and this fear lives with me all the time.”

Further claim if condition worsens in future due to asbestos related disease

Mr Kemp had previously been diagnosed with pleural plaques and through the GMB union, he instructed Thompsons Solicitors for advice. At that time the law had changed to end compensation for pleural plaques. After being told he probably had cancer he got back in touch with Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation. The GMB again supported the case.

Thompsons was successful in securing compensation from two of his former employers’ insurers. This provisional settlement allows him to make a further claim for compensation if his condition worsens in the future due to asbestos related disease.

GMB Northern Regional Secretary Tom Brennan said: “Like many of our members who worked in the shipyards Mr Kemp was negligently exposed to asbestos by his employers who knew the harmful effects it could have on workers, yet did nothing to ensure they were adequately protected.”

Gill Connelly from Thompsons Solicitors said: “The settlement we obtained for Mr Kemp gives him the benefit of immediate compensation now while preserving his right to reopen the claim for further damages if he should sufferer serious deterioration due to pleural thickening or develops other asbestos related conditions including mesothelioma or lung cancer. By contacting his union’s legal service for assistance his interests have been fully protected and at no cost to him.”