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Former Czech electrician loses battle with mesothelioma

A Worthing man who grew up in Czechoslovakia working on trams died from asbestos that he encountered working in London an inquest heard.

The man was born in Ostrava in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) in 1946 and trained as an electrician before moving to the UK, his inquest heard.

He was employed by Dopravní podnik Ostrava, the city’s public transport company, working on trams. However, the coroner’s officer said: “He did not recall coming into contact with asbestos at any time while in Czechoslovakia.”

The man moved to the UK and took a job with Abell Alarms in 1974, where his electrician skills were put to use working on burglar alarms. The company would take on big contracts across London. It is during this employment that the man believed he encountered asbestos, the inquest heard. It was also heard that he was never warned about the dangers of asbestos or provided with any protective equipment.

In August 2018 the man was diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma. Sadly, he died at St Barnabas House in January 2019.

Assistant coroner Joanne Andrews said: “[the man] believed he was exposed to asbestos during his employment with Abell Alarms.

“I am therefore satisfied on the balance of probabilities that [he] did die as a result of industrial disease.”

Mesothelioma is an aggressive, treatment-resistant cancerous tumour which primarily affects the pleura (lungs) and peritoneum (stomach). More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. Most cases that are diagnosed tend to be in people aged 60 to 80, and men tend to be more commonly affected than women.

Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a general term used for a group of fibrous minerals known for their thermal resistance, strength and acoustic insulation. Several types of asbestos were commonly used commercially such as blue asbestos (crocidolite), brown asbestos (amosite) and white asbestos (chrysotile).

The symptoms of mesothelioma can often take up to 40 years to develop and most commonly present as: a persistent cough, breathlessness, wheezing, chest pain, fatigue and weight loss. In cases of peritoneal mesothelioma, symptoms could include stomach pain, stomach swelling and nausea. It is most commonly diagnosed on chest xrays, CT scans and by taking biopsies.

Johnathan Steventon-Kiy, specialist industrial disease lawyer, says:

“Sadly cases of mesothelioma are common in those who worked in commercial trades such as electricians, plumbers, boiler makers, building and construction workers and any other trades in which asbestos was commonly used. It can also affect the families of those who used asbestos such as a spouse who may have washed dusty clothes/overalls. The effects of mesothelioma are devastating and it is important that an experienced specialist asbestos disease solicitor assists the Claimant, or their estate, to ensure that the correct amount of compensation is received. The specialist solicitors in Biscoes Industrial Disease team have many years of experience pursuing these sorts of cases.”

Contact our specialist personal injury, medical negligence and industrial disease solicitors on 0800 413 463 or visit for more information. You can also follow us on twitter using the handle @biscoesmedneg

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.