Widow in compensation bid over asbestos death

AN EASTBOURNE woman whose partner died from a cancer linked to asbestos has launched a legal battle for compensation of up to £150,000.

Gerald Giles, 81, died from malignant mesothelioma, a cancer of the tissues surrounding his lungs, after being exposed to asbestos to work.

Now his partner Marion Collins is demanding damages from his former employers Nicholls and Shoosmith, of Blackboys, Uckfield.

Mr Giles was exposed to deadly asbestos dust and fibres when he worked for the company as an apprentice carpenter in the 40s and 50s, according to a High Court writ.

He helped put up new asbestos corrugated roofs on garages, industrial buildings and farms, and ripped off old asbestos with a crowbar, dropping the pieces onto the ground where he smashed them up with a hammer and shovelled them into a truck, the writ says.

This produced clouds of asbestos dust, which hung around in the air, and asbestos dust and fibres covered his hair and clothes, it is alleged.

He also measured up new sheets, cutting with a large toothed saw, drilling holes, and nailing them down.

There was so much asbestos dust it made him cough when it blew up into his face, the court will hear.

Mr Giles, of Fairfield Lodge, Eastbourne, developed chest pain, a cough, and general debility, underwent surgery, and knew that his condition was fatal.

He died some eight years earlier than he should have done, taking into account his history of heart disease, and he needed increasing care and assistance in his last few weeks, says the writ.

In his last weeks he became very agitated, often turning away from people, and needed palliative care in a hospice.

Ms Collins, 74, who lived with Mr Giles for at least 10 years, brands the company negligent and says it exposed him to a major risk of fatal injury without warning him of the risks he ran.

The company also negligently failed to provide him with breathing apparatus, and failed to provide him with a safe place and system of work, she says. The writ was issued by solicitor Caroline Penfold of Irwin Mitchell.