Moffat & Co Solicitors

Moffat & Co Solicitors
Accident Compensation Claim Solicitors Scotland
PO Box 28287
0131 662 6988
0131 667 8175

MASS Motor Accident Solicitors Society

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Big names get hit with asbestos claims

Nestle, the world's largest food company, and energy giant Esso are among a group of companies facing millions of pounds in legal claims from former workers who allege that they have contracted asbestos-related diseases while working for the organisations. A British court has ordered Esso to pay 300,000 in compensation to a widow whose husband died from an asbestos-related cancer known as mesothelioma, for which there is no cure and has a direct correlation to exposure to asbestos. Food giant Nestle is facing a similar claim of 150,000 for a worker who developed the same disease.

Asbestos is no respecter of reputation

Esso have been forced to compensate the widow of a man who died more than 40 years after being exposed to asbestos while working at the company's oil refinery in Hampshire. In a statement made before he died, the man spoke of workers at the site staging 'snowball fights' with lumps of wet asbestos. Although the risks of the mineral to human health have been known about for almost a century, it wasn't until the 1970s that any form of action was taken to protect those working with the substance, and a general ban on its use as a building material was brought in. However, even now workers are at risk of exposure to asbestos because although it was stopped from being used as a building material in new-builds from the mid 1970s, it is still prevalent in buildings constructed before that time including refineries, factories and even schools.

The real problem with pursuing asbestos claims is the length of time that diseases such as mesothelioma take to develop after exposure. The cancer can lay dormant in the body for up to 50 years, but once it manifests as a virulent cancer, there is no known cure. The argument currently raging is that pleural plaques - deposits on the lungs that cause scarring - is a clear indicator of exposure to asbestos and possibly the precursor to the development of more life-threatening cancers such as mesothelioma. As a result of the length of time it takes for the effects of exposure to asbestos to manifest, many companies that may have been responsible for negligently exposing workers to asbestos 40 years ago are now defunct, untraceable or have gone out of business. Consequently, it is difficult to find someone to blame and so the route to a successful compensation claim for the victims is hindered. The campaign to highlight asbestos-related illnesses and those who work on behalf of the victims believe that literally hundreds of companies may be 'getting away with murder'.

Nestle is the latest of the big names to face such charges. Compensation for a worker who spent 20 years working on a sweet production line and was exposed to a 'foreseeably harmful level of asbestos' is being pursued by the family of the victim. It is claimed that 'little or no preventative measures were taken' against asbestos exposure and estimates that the man would have lived for at least another 11 years had he not been exposed. This case shows how dramatically mesothelioma can shorten the lifespan of previously healthy people, and all from the simple act of working in an environment where the risks to health were not taken seriously enough. Nestle have so far declined to comment on the case, but it shows that it isn't just the little companies that are being held culpable for a failure in their duty of care in the past.

An ongoing problem

The number of deaths from mesothelioma is predicted to peak in the next 15 years and is still the biggest killer in the workplace. The concern is that a new generation of victims - those who work as plumbers, electricians and builders on older properties - are being exposed to the same kind of risks as the shipbuilders and factory-workers of the 1970s. Although the threat of asbestos exposure is now taken much more seriously, it is still a major concern to those involved in fighting for compensation for the victims of exposure that the campaign to highlight the dangers will run out of steam, swept aside by Government reviews that disregard the latest evidence in the form of pleural plaques. That cannot be allowed to happen, if the victims of asbestos are to get the compensation they deserve.

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My case was dealt with personally by Stan Moffat and what a brilliant guy. His office contacted me personally by telephone at the start of my claim to explain who they were and what they would be doing for me. All through the case I was kept fully informed of all actions either by e-mail or by letter and reassured by Stan several times of any queries I had.

It is very seldom that a solicitor will take the time to speak personally at any time with you without getting run through secretaries etc. I commend this man for that as this was a very upsetting and important time for me and he did everything in his power to make this as easy and as swift as possible for me.

I highly recommend the service that this firm brings and the speed that they move at.

J McMahon

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