Millions of pounds unclaimed in compensation for Wigan asbestos factory illness and deaths
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Turner and Newall went into administration in 2001 after being financially crippled by legal claims against it as a result of hundreds of workers being exposed to asbestos while working in its factories.
It was also banned from producing or importing asbestos by the European Union.
A £100m compensation scheme was established by the administrators for workers who were exposed to the substance while working for the company, which had factories in Hindley Green and Rochdale.
At various times in its existence, the business in Leigh Road was also called Turner Brothers Asbestos and TBA Belting.
Wigan-based national law firm Stephensons is now urging families who think they may be affected to come forward to claim the compensation.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to serious lung diseases such as mesothelioma – which can be potentially fatal, often several decades after exposure to asbestos.
A significant amount of the compensation has already been claimed but millions still remains to be claimed by former workers or their families.
Case Study – Wigan family awarded £93,000 following mother’s death
Susan Bellamy (not her real name) worked for Turner Brothers Asbestos Company between 1965 and 1971 in Hindley Green, Wigan.
She worked as a winder in the factor where a lot of asbestos was present and worked closely with the people weaving asbestos, which caused a large amount of dust.
She also had to clean her machine with a hand brush, and this meant brushing out asbestos dust which then got into the atmosphere and inhaled. Throughout her time working there she was unaware of the dangers of working with asbestos.
From 2015 Mrs Bellamy became breathless and her condition gradually deteriorated. By 2017 she was only able to walk 50 yards. In May 2017 she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Her breathlessness worsened, she developed pain, fatigue and increasing physical weakness. She had to be admitted to a hospice as she had become severely disabled and required personal care.
In November 2018, Mrs Bellamy sadly passed away at the age of 85. Her cause of death was given as mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos exposure with a conclusion of industrial disease.
Stephensons assisted Mrs Bellamy’s family to apply to the T and N Asbestos Trustee Company’s compensation scheme. A medical expert confirmed that on the balance of probabilities, Mrs Bellamy’s exposure to asbestos whilst working for the Turner Brothers Asbestos Company Limited was sufficient to materially increase her risk of developing mesothelioma.
Mrs Bellamy’s family were awarded just over £93,000 in compensation.
Mrs Bellamy’s son Jack (also not his real name), said: “It was incredibly difficult to watch my mother’s condition deteriorate as it did. Had she known the risk she was exposing herself to all those years ago, she more than likely would not have done so.
“It’s worrying to think how many others may have been exposed in the same way and that some of them and their families may never have made the connection with Turner and Newall.
“While the compensation can never undo the suffering my mother went through or bring her back, it was a small comfort and I’d urge others who may be in a similar position to look to claim as well.”
Sarah Masters, associate solicitor in the personal injury team at Stephensons said: “There are more than 2,500 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the UK each year, with the great majority of these caused by exposure to asbestos and in most cases, that exposure has been in the workplace.
“At Turner and Newall, the impact of workers’ exposure was so severe it led to the company collapsing and the establishment of this fund. We know millions has already been claimed by families such as Mrs Bellamy’s, but millions more is still unclaimed.
“Mesothelioma can have a devastating impact on a person’s health, as shown in this case, and while we know no amount of money can undo that, it can help to provide support and healthcare, or if the person has already passed away, support their family.
“I’d urge anyone who worked at Turner and Newall who thinks they may have been affected to get in touch to see if we can support them to claim from the compensation scheme.”
In 2013 an unnamed Wigan 61-year-old has become the first local person to successfully claim damages from Turner and Newall without having ever worked for it.
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 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.”
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.
If you or a family member has been affected by asbestos exposure or would like to discuss a potential claim, please contact Stephensons’ specialist team on 0333 999 7147.