For around 20 years, Gerard Cooper from Heaviley in Stockport worked for local employer British Driver Harris (BDH) coiling wire heated by furnace around huge spools. A component of the furnace was made from asbestos and, working so closely to it in the heat meant Mr Cooper was unknowingly exposed to asbestos dust. Sadly, Mr Cooper was diagnosed with mesothelioma in his 80s and died in November 2017.
His family were devastated by Mr Cooper’s illness, not least since he had always been fit and healthy, partly joining BDH so he could play in the football team. Even at the age of 82, Mr Cooper regularly socialised with his friends, playing darts and enjoying life.
Mr Cooper’s family instructed Senior Associate, Bridget Collier to make a claim. BDH’s insurers initially denied Mr Cooper’s claim, refusing to accept there was sufficient evidence to prove that he had been exposed to negligent amounts of asbestos while he worked. Sadly, Mr Cooper died before the company accepted responsibility for the claim.
At Mr Cooper’s funeral, an old colleague attended and spoke to the family. He had worked at BDH as an electrical engineer and confirmed that as shop steward he had referred to the Union on several occasions with concerns about asbestos in the workplace.
A few months later, in January 2018, Fieldfisher won a landmark case in the Court of Appeal that challenged the way the courts assess levels of asbestos exposure and whether they are negligent. This win in the case of Bussey, together with the witness coming forward, allowed Bridget to go back to the defendants with new evidence of their negligence.
The defendants consequently admitted it was likely that Mr Cooper had indeed been exposed to asbestos and that because of the result of the Bussey case, they would be considered negligent. They therefore admitted liability and subsequently settled the claim on behalf of Mr Cooper’s Estate.
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