Landmark asbestos payout for dying woman

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A WIGAN mum has won a landmark pay-out for the asbestos-related illness that is killing her.

The unnamed 61-year-old has become the first local person to successfully claim damages from Turner and Newall without having ever worked for the defunct Hindley Green firm.

She landed the payment after convincing trustees that the deadly mesothelioma with which she was diagnosed last year must have been contracted when she lived 500 yards away from the factory when she was a schoolgirl.

Her lawyers say it is unlikely that after this legal precedent was set, she will be the last Wigan resident to lodge a claim for “environmental exposure” from the Turner and Newall plant which has already paid out millions to ex-workers and their families.

The mother of three, who was a keen runner, visited her GP in the autumn of last year after noticing unusual shortness of breath. A chest X-ray revealed a shadow on her lung which was later diagnosed as mesothelioma.

She contacted Thompsons Solicitors to investigate her case for compensation and it this week secured damages of over £70,000 from the Turner and Newall Asbestos Trust which was set up to compensate people exposed to asbestos by the company after it went into administration in 2001.

The victim had lived near the factory, which for a time was also called TBA Belting, between the ages of five and 19.

She said: “When we were growing up, clouds of asbestos dust were visible in the air and would get on our clothes.

“I spent my childhood playing in the fields that surrounded the plant.

“I remember asbestos dust being brought in to our house on the shoes and clothes of visitors; it lined the outside window panes.

“This illness has completely shattered my life. Growing up next to the Hindley Green Turner Brothers factory all those years ago caused of my cancer. I had always been busy, fit and active.

“This has been an extremely distressing time for myself and my family.”

In the evidence presented to the trustees the woman also explained that she would be in shops at the same time as factory workers and several staff would come round to her house straight from wthe factory in their dust-covered work clothes to see her dad who was involved in the local cricket team.

Steven Dickens from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos decades ago while at work and this caused their condition.

“But in this case the mesothelioma was caused by the Turner Brothers factory polluting the local environment. We believe this is the first successful mesothelioma claim to the Turner and Newall Trust for an environmental exposure case relating to the factory at Hindley Green.”

Turner and Newall has already made a number of pay-outs to people who lived around its factory in Armley, Leeds, which was in the middle of a heavily residential area.

The Hindley Green plant had fewer houses around it but Mr Dickens said that it would not surprise him if other cases now emerged.

He added: “This is a very sad story. The lady and her husband were childhood sweethearts who grew up in Hindley Green and she had been very fit up until the mesothelioma took hold last year.

“They want privacy as she battles this terrible illness but they also want people to know about this landmark victory in case other people are similarly affected in future and be informed that compensation can be claimed.

“They could have taken the matter to court to make a greater claim but the family’s main objective was to get a victory. The trustees at first seemed reluctant to pay out but then relented when presented with overwhelming evidence.”