Asbestos dust woman wins claim
Thursday 17th October 2013, 4:31PM BST.
A fashion designer who developed terminal cancer after making asbestos snow balls from dust that escaped from a local factory when she was a girl has won a settlement from the plant’s parent company.
Caroline Wilcock, 51, grew up in Bowburn, County Durham, next to an asbestos firm. Locals recalled dust from the plant gathering on window ledges and cars.
Children collected it to make snow balls and wrote messages in the deadly dust. Others picked up lumps of asbestos that fell from wagons and used it as an alternative to chalk when they marked out games on the pavement.
Miss Wilcock’s case against Cape Intermediate Holdings PLC – previously known as The Cape Asbestos Company – was due to be held yesterday but the firm settled with her out of court.
Her claim stated she suffered from asbestos poisoning between 1967 and 1983. She was diagnosed with the fatal lung condition mesothelioma three years ago.
Now living in London, the fashion designer said: “”I am pleased and relieved at this outcome. I hope that my case now encourages other people in similar circumstances to seek redress.
“I feel I had a responsibility to the community I grew up in to pursue my claim and to now talk about it publicly.
“My case establishes that the people of Bowburn were exposed to the dangers of asbestos over forty years ago and were largely unaware or unable to do anything to protect themselves and their children.
“I am angry that I and other children came into contact with asbestos whilst playing in our village and around our homes, and feel certain that my case will not be in isolation.
“I sincerely hope that my testimony and the statements from my witnesses are now on record, so that any other cases following mine can have speedy access to the expert medical and legal help they deserve.
“I would like to thank these witnesses for coming forward and giving testimony, and my mother and sister who have tirelessly researched and gathered local knowledge.
“This case, and in particular the outcome, has local, national and international implications and is a breakthough case for mesothelioma sufferers worldwide.
“The law must be changed to protect all future diagnosed cases and allow them access to the compensation they truly deserve.
“I would also like to thank my legal team who have worked so diligently to prepare this case for court and have supported, advised and guided me throughout with their experience and compassion.”
The firm that operated the factory no longer exists so her team brought their case against the successor.
Her solicitor Andrew Morgan, of Field Fisher Waterhouse, said: “There are few lawyers and law firms who would take on a claim that presented such obstacles and that posed such risks.
“I am delighted that we were able to obtain substantial monetary recognition for Caroline but I fear the Government’s intended reforms to the financing of mesothelioma claims will bring an end to such public interest litigation.”