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Woolworths’insurers may be paying out onmesothelioma claims

Insurers of the now defunct
Woolworths retailer may be facing a compensation claim worth millions of British pounds, now that the husband of an ex-cashier is
holding the company accountable
for his wife’s death. Betty
Westhead worked Woolworths’
Durham Market Place store
between 1947 to 1982 in Durham,
England. In the fall of 2009, she
began to develop breathing
problems and was diagnosed with
mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the
protective lining of the lungs, heart,
chest and abdomen that is caused
almost exclusively by prolonged
asbestos exposure.

Westhead passed away at the age
of 78 on June 23, 2010. Her
husband, Ivor, filed the claim
against Woolworths in the hopes of
doing justice for his wife and to
helping others who may have been
affected. Westhead’s attorney
says asbestos is known to have
been in the store ceiling and that
dozens of people may have been
exposed to the carcinogen during a
major refurbishment of the store
that took place in the 1960’s.
Because asbestos cancer takes an
average of 40 years to develop
and become symptomatic, the
timing of the exposure and the
diagnosis of Westhead’s illness
correlates well with her claim.


Over 100 people worked at the
Woolworths when the renovation
was taking place, and all of them
could be entitled to up to £100,000
each, and staff from other
Woolworths stores could also be
eligible if similar works were carried
out at their locations. However,
there is one obstacle that
Westhead and his legal
representation face: a lack of
witnesses. Because the renovation
took place in the 60’s, it is proving
difficult to find people who can
speak about the conditions in the
store during the renovation.

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