Widow wins asbestos pay-out

April 24, 1998

LONDON's Imperial College of Science and Technology has made an out-of-court settlement following the death of a former lecturer from asbestos-related mesothelioma.

The claim was settled by the college without an admission of liability. A spokesman for the college said: "The claim was first brought in April 1993 and liability has been disputed throughout by Imperial College and its insurers."

The case followed the death in 1993 of James Lewis, a lecturer in the mechanical engineering department from 1958 until 1988. His wife, Anne, has been supported by Mr Lewis's union, the Association of University Teachers, which issued a statement saying Pounds 150,000 had been awarded in compensation. The college would neither confirm nor deny this award.

Mrs Lewis claimed the college had caused Mr Lewis's death by exposing him to asbestos during the course of his work. Although he did not handle asbestos himself, his wife claimed he regularly worked in workshops where parts of apparatus and equipment were made from asbestos.

Following the settlement, Mrs Lewis's solicitor, Pauline Chandler, of Manchester-based solicitors Thompsons, said: "I wonder how many other educational establishments have used asbestos products in their laboratories in the past, and how many students - let alone teachers - may have been put at risk as a result. This is the first case of mesothelioma arising out of work in an academic institution that I have come across - but it will not be unique," she said.

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