Steve Toms was employed by H G Barham Limited as an office boy at the age of 16 and gradually progressed to become the Company Secretary before he was made redundant in 1995. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February 2013 and advised that this had probably been caused by exposure to asbestos. H G Barham Limited was a firm of timber merchants and Steve's work had been in the office for most of the time. He had no real knowledge as to how he might have been exposed to asbestos in this work. He was sure that he had not been exposed to asbestos anywhere else.
Mr Toms remembered that he often had to go into the mill a few times a day to collect the canteen money and check items of stock for customers. He could not recall any asbestos materials being in stock and sold to customers. It was therefore extremely difficult to pursue a claim on his behalf for exposure to asbestos during the course of this work. Unfortunately, the claim was still being investigated when he passed away in January 2014.
Caroline Pinfold was instructed to pursue the claim by Mr Toms' son Mark and his daughter Michelle who were named as the executors of his estate. They informed her that at their father's funeral they had spoken to several former employees of the company who had more knowledge than their father had had about the use of asbestos materials at H G Barham Limited and could give evidence about this.
Caroline contacted the witnesses who described asbestos sheets and Asbestolux being stocked by the company. These were often cut to size for customers in the mill. One witness also remembered that he had taken photographs when corrugated asbestos cement roofs were being smashed up around the late 1980s when sheds in the yard were being demolished. Huge clouds of dust were blown all over the area when this demolition took place and anyone in the vicinity, including Mr Toms, could not have avoided breathing in a lot of asbestos dust and fibres at that time. One of the photographs also showed the shed where Asbestolux and asbestos sheeting were cut. Other witnesses also confirmed the cutting of Asbestolux and how Mr Toms was often in the mill and other areas where he would have been exposed to asbestos dust and fibres.
As a result of the information provided by former work mates, Caroline Pinfold was able to obtain an admission of liability from the insurers of the company.
The compensation recovered included just over £8,000 on behalf of Havens Hospice where Mr Toms received care at the end of his life. The family were very keen that this money should be included in recognition of the care that had been provided to their father so that they could donate it to the Hospice on his behalf.
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