Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
If Steve had known back in the 1960s and 70s that he would be diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009, he would have made a record of any job he had done where he might have been exposed to excessive amounts of asbestos, a note of his employer at the time, and taken photographs of dust particles in the air, on his clothes or settling on surfaces.
30-40 years after the event, it's very difficult to remember exactly what happened when, and say with absolute confidence that he was exposed to, or came into contact with, asbestos whilst visiting sites, surveying buildings, working in old MOD huts on airfields, or doing odd jobs in factories in the vacations. Plus, we've lost contact with most of the people he worked with during that time, and many of the firms who employed him are no longer trading.
As a result of our failing memories, we came out of the meeting with the solicitor's rep earlier today with a strong feeling that a successful private claim for compensation for negligence against a former employer would be very unlikely. Still, we'll see what happens when the solicitor pulls together all the information from various sources to get the bigger picture.
In the meantime, if you have known Steve for a long time, perhaps you can help? Think back - did you help pull down the partitions in the School of Architecture to create the big open plan studio in the early 1970s? Were any of those panels you smashed up made of asbestos? Did you help clear out the building that is now Modern Art Oxford? Did that involve removing or disturbing asbestos? If anyone out there worked with Steve in any other environment where you might have been exposed to asbestos, or know of anyone else who might be able to shed any helpful light on such past events, then please do get in touch.
Enough of the memory games.
There was good news today. Katie's new laptop arrived safely very early this morning, so we can take it with us when we go to visit her this weekend. The post brought a letter confirming that Steve has been awarded Disabled Living Allowance. It's no substitute for good health, but it's some compensation for all the time spent in hospital and the dreams and plans put on hold since diagnosis.
The other news today was not so good. A close friend has swine flu, so any plans for a joint birthday celebration next will be postponed until the infection has cleared up. Get well soon, Sally and please take good care of yourself!
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