Mr Evans was 71 when he died from mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos when he was employed by what is now Interserve Industrial Services Limited and other local employers in the 1960s and 1970s.
Mesothelioma is an incurable and inevitably fatal cancer. Caused by a single asbestos fibre, symptoms may not appear until several decades after the original exposure. By the time mesothelioma can be diagnosed it has usually progressed far past the point where anything other than palliative treatment can be given and the life expectancy of victims is very limited.
Mr Evans worked as a pipe fitter and had to strip off asbestos lagging from various pipes and vessels without any protection. Knowledge of the risks of asbestos was prevalent in the 1960s and employers should have provided adequate personal protective equipment. Anyone negligently exposed to asbestos at work in a similar way may be able to claim compensation from their employer at the time, even if they are no longer in business.
Mr Evans himself and Mrs Keryl Lanfear, one of his two daughters, initially turned to partner Sara Hunt, who specialises in asbestos and mesothelioma claims. Sara took instructions from Mr Evans directly at that time, but after her father’s death on 23 August 2014 Keryl continued the claim for damages as the executrix of the estate. She also sought funding to secure the ongoing care her mother required that her father had previously provided.
Initially the employer’s insurers in the case denied that Mr Evans had been exposed to asbestos. However, Sara established the link between his employment and exposure to the deadly fibres by obtaining evidence from Mr Evans himself and from colleagues he had worked with. The claim was successful and judgment was entered on 13 October 2015 with the level of compensation to be assessed.
The value of the claim however was very much an issue. Mrs Evans was aged 70 when her husband died. Sara was able to obtain geriatric evidence, which the court agreed was pertinent to the claim, confirming the type and extent of care (previously given by her husband) that Mrs Evans would continue to require.
Garret Spring, the senior solicitor in Shoosmiths’s industrial disease team who also worked with the family to bring this case to a successful conclusion commented:
‘Sadly Mrs Evans has vascular dementia with an Alzheimer’s component and had been declining gradually since 2010. Following Mr Evans’ death, his two daughters Keryl Lanfear and Claire Thomas have had to provide 24 hour care for their mother who cannot otherwise be left alone.’
Following a lengthy settlement meeting on 7 October 2016 the parties failed to come to any agreement. The last and supposedly final offer by the defendants was substantially below that which the Shoosmiths team considered adequate. However, just one day before the trial was scheduled to begin the offer was increased to £1 million.
Shoosmiths argued that, had Mr Evans not contracted mesothelioma he would have undoubtedly continued to look after his wife. Keryl Lanfear commented:
‘Losing our dad was hard enough to bear but even more worrying was just how much our mum relied on him. To be honest me and Claire did not appreciate how much care and support our dad actually did provide 24 hours a day, every day, until he was no longer able to look after our mother.’
Keryl and Claire have been attempting to provide the same degree of complex care their father gave their mother, but as her condition worsens it is a relief that the award will help to fund the full time care at home which she so clearly needs. Keryl adds:
‘It’s been a hard struggle, first to get some sort of acknowledgment from the other side that they caused dad’s illness and then to get them to agree to the level and intensity of care mum needs and deserves, while we also had to cover all her care needs in the two and a half years it took to bring the claim to a resolution. Our dad was a very hard working, family man who you could always rely on to fix anything. We are devastated to have lost him and there will always be a gap in our family.’
‘Our parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary shortly before he died and he always worked tirelessly to look after mum and the love and affection he gave to her was clear for all to see. We’ll always be grateful to Sara and Garret at Shoosmiths for fighting our corner and ensuring that we have the means to continue looking after our mother properly and for her to be able to stay at home, which is what dad would have wanted.'
For further information, contact:
Allan Bisset, Shoosmiths
Phone: 03700 866736
Email: [email protected]
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Notes to Editors
Shoosmiths is the private client arm of National law firm Shoosmiths, which has been established for over 165 years. The firm has offices in Basingstoke, Birmingham, Manchester, London, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Nottingham, Reading, Southampton (Whiteley) and Edinburgh where it gives legal advice appropriate to Scottish law. It is called ‘Shoosmiths’ because that is precisely what it aims to do: give individuals easy access to the law, supported by an online channel through friendly, approachable experts who know how to make the complex simple. Services for individuals and their families provided by Shoosmiths range from claiming compensation for a personal injury, seeking redress for medical negligence, advice for families with children with special educational needs, Inquests, challenging a will, inheritance disputes, professional negligence, claiming compensation for industrial injury and disease and advice for private buy to let landlords.
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2023