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Home > News > Personal Injury News

14 November 2005

Asbestos Victim in Battle for Payout Rights

A retired carpenter who is living in fear of developing a deadly disease is hoping to win the right to claim compensation for his condition.

William Scarlett, 66, of Chepstow Road, Newport, was devastated nearly two years ago when doctors told him he had pleural plaques - irreversible damage to the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.

The pensioner now dreads the possibility of the condition developing into the malignant cancer, mesothelioma. He is seeking compensation because he claims he was not protected against exposure to asbestos during his working life.

But his bid could be left in tatters this week if an Appeal Court in London rules in favour of halting payouts to people suffering the condition.

Mr Scarlett, whose colleague died of an asbestos-related disease, said; 'I want compensation because we were never warned about the dangers of asbestos and never protected against it. When I was diagnosed I was upset and frightened. I find it very hard to breathe at times and when this happens I fear the worse.

'I feel like it's a timebomb. I feel that one day I will get the full disease and that will be the end.'

Born in Northern Ireland, the father of three came into contact with asbestos while he worked at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, as well as other building jobs.

Mr Scarlett, married to Elizabeth, 64, has lived in Newport for 46 years, and recalls asbestos dust getting into his mouth, hair and up his nose, but said he was never given a mask to wear.

Today, Thompsons Solicitors, acting for asbestos claimants, will begin their fight against insurers Norwich Union, for continued right to compensation. The Appeal Court hearing, which is expected to last four days, follows the High Court defeat of the insurer's attempt to end claims for pleural plaques earlier this year.

According to insurance industry estimates, asbestos-related claims are expected to cost UK insurers up to £10bn over the next 40 years, with pleural plaques claims accounting for over £1bn.

Eamonn McDonough, of Thompsons, said: 'The case is about the right of people to continue to receive awards of compensation for the injury they have suffered.'

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