Man paid £275K for ‘asbestos exposure at school’

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A man has received a £275,000 compensation settlement after claiming that exposure to asbestos as a schoolboy resulted in him being diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 30.

Chris Wallace, now 36, believes his illness was caused by inhaling asbestos fibres during his time as a pupil at Yeo Valley Primary School, Yeo Valley Junior School, South Molton Junior School and South Molton Community College in Devon.

Mr Wallace decided to make a claim for damages for his terminal illness from Devon County Council, which opted to settle out of court after his solicitors discovered examples of times he could have been exposed to asbestos while at school.

It is believed the case was the first time a former pupil had taken legal action of this sort, but Mr Wallace insisted it was fully justified.

"The council has to take a large chunk of responsibility. They know [asbestos is] in the building and children are at risk of getting to it. It's down to them to ensure it's removed safely," he said.

Mesothelioma can lie dormant for 40 years following the initial exposure to asbestos.

A spokesman for the Council said it had not admitted liability as part of the settlement.

He added: “Devon County Council takes great care to manage asbestos in its buildings and that includes regular inspections. Asbestos is safe as long as it isn’t disturbed.

“All Devon schools have been surveyed for asbestos and each school holds a full record of any asbestos in its buildings.”

Asbestos is known to be a particular issue in school buildings and it is thought that more than 140 teachers have died from mesothelioma over the past decade.

For information about the safe removal and disposal of asbestos from public buildings by a licensed contractor, please contact BLS Asbestos.

Published: 5th August 2014