Family awarded £475,000 over fatal asbestos exposure

Older woman looking out to sea

Dave Pearson, 66, died from a terminal lung cancer contracted after more than 40 years of work at the Methil Fabrication Plant in Fife.

He contacted Digby Brown’s Industrial Disease lawyers for help pursuing civil action against the company. Sadly he died within weeks of beginning his legal case and insurers dragged the case out needlessly over two years in an attempt to find a loophole and avoid settlement.

However, the action finally ended this month – with a senior judge criticising those responsible for their tactics.

Sue Pearson, wife of Dave Pearson, encouraged others to never give up on their quest for justice.

She said: “It could have ended months ago if those responsible simply did what was right.

“Thankfully we managed to hold those responsible to account and we now hope to try and restore some kind of balance to our future.”

Dave from St Andrews, Fife worked in machine and building maintenance at Methil Fabrication Plant since the 1970s.

He worked 12-hour shifts nearly seven days a week and was exposed to asbestos-filled dust while maintaining the brakes and clutches in cranes and vehicles throughout the plant. However, as Dave wasn’t provided with a ventilated working space or safety equipment he ended up breathing in deadly particles.

Dave was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer, on 16 June 2016 and sadly passed away on 7 January 2017 - less than seven months later.

His wife Sue, 63, added: “Dave was a big, gentle, kind, strong-hearted man who worshipped the ground the kids and I walked on.

“I’m grateful to have felt that kind of rare and precious love but it makes his passing all the harder.”

Sue and Dave shared 34 years together and raised five children and eight grandchildren.

Sue added: “We supported each other as a unit but it wouldn’t have worked without the right legal help.

“So to anyone else going through the same thing, just keep going.”

The legal bid dragged on because over the years the plant operated under two different companies – Redpath Dorman Long (Contracting) Limited and RGC Offshore Ltd.

Despite being part of the same overall group each company tried to pass the blame with their insurers also adding to the delay while searching for loopholes.

However after months of investigating from Digby Brown Solicitors the damages claim ended with an out-of-court settlement.

It was confirmed at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday 1 May where Judge Lady Wolffe criticised the defenders’ tactics as “verging towards an abuse of legal process”.

Daughter Kim McFarlane, 42, remains angry at those responsible for delaying the process and still hopes for an apology.

Kim said: “The defenders finally admitted responsibility but didn’t apologise for killing my dad or for the long process they caused.

“I think we are owed an apology but don’t think we’ll ever get one.”

Dianne Foster, support officer for charity group Asbestos Action, helped the family in Dave’s final months.

She said: “It was emotional time for Dave and his family and I hope they may now be able to find a sense of peace after going through so much.”

Fraser Simpson, partner at Digby Brown Solicitors and head of the industrial disease team, led the family’s legal charge.

He added: “What made Dave’s death – and the family’s pain – harder to understand and cope with was the simple truth that it was avoidable.

“I applaud the Pearson family for their strength of character during this process and hope this settlement brings a sense of justice, removes question marks from their future and hopefully even a little peace.

“Asbestos case numbers continue to rise and wherever negligence has been identified, those affected can be assured we will fight for as long and as hard as we can to help them recover the means to restore their lives.”

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Fraser Simpson

Fraser Simpson, Partner