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Case Study

Wife's successful claim for exposure from husband's work in London Docks

Joyce Silk married Terry Silk in July 1969, having lived with him for 1 year previously. Terry worked in the London Docks and had been a registered Dock Worker from July 1963.

Terry could recall having handled asbestos cargos for Durable Wharfage Co Limited which continued to 1968/69. He also had rare photographic evidence of himself and colleagues handling paper sacks which were clearly marked as asbestos. The photograph above shows the dusty conditions that they worked in and the lack of any protection provided to them. Dust is clearly visible on their clothes.

Despite the photographic evidence of handling the asbestos and the dusty conditions, the employers initially denied liability, stating that industrial action in the London Docks meant that Terry would not have handled asbestos cargos during the relevant period.

Joyce had washed Terry's work clothes from the time they started living together and it was the only exposure to asbestos that she had had. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February 2015.

Caroline Pinfold, who was instructed by Joyce to pursue her claim, carried out research at the London Docklands Museum and obtained other documents held by the former National Dock Labour Board relating to the handling of asbestos cargoes in the London Docks. 

The employers eventually admitted liability, but there was no agreement on the amount of compensation to be paid to Mrs Silk and it was necessary to obtain a date from the Court for the assessment of this. 

The assessment of damages was listed for 30 June 2016 and the case settled one week before this.

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