Mesothelioma kills woman 40 years after hugging her asbestos-exposed father

by Symptom Advice on March 30, 2012

A woman has died 40 years after hugging her asbestos-exposed father. Picture: Angelo Soulas Source: The Daily Telegraph

  • Woman dies of mesothelioma after hugging dad
  • was breathing in his asbestos-ridden clothes
  • Also washed his clothes as mother had lung disease

A MOTHER-of-two who used to welcome home her shipyard worker dad with a hug has died of lung cancer after breathing in his asbestos-ridden clothes.

Annette Bhatti, who was just 49, also helped her ill mother to scrub her father’s work uniform by hand more than 40 years ago.

They did not know at the time that they were breathing in deadly dust particles from his asbestos-ridden clothes.

Mrs Bhatti, a housing officer, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2010. she married her long-term partner Bal Bhatti a month later.

Just 18 months later, in December last year, she lost her battle with the lung disease at her home in Southampton, Hampshire.

Her death has left her surviving father, now a pensioner, devastated and inconsolable.

Mesothelioma is normally associated with people over 50 and more commonly among men who worked at shipyards.

Mrs Bhatti’s father Lawrence Ramplee, now a pensioner, was exposed to asbestos while employed by Hills Construction in Hampshire, England.

He was later further exposed to asbestos during shifts at ship repairers Harland and Wolff at the city’s docks when Annette was just a toddler.

Mr Ramplee’s jobs involved cutting up 10ft corrugated asbestos sheets by hand, coroner Keith Wiseman heard.

His work clothing was worn home where mrs Bhatti was "exposed to the dust fibres in the air" at a very young age. she helped to wash his clothes by hand because her mother was ill with lung disease.

"The clothing worn during the week was taken home to be cleaned at home," Mr Wiseman said.

"Somewhat tragically, Mr Ramplee recalls occasions giving his daughter a hug when he got home before he changed."

He said there was never any warning about working with this particular substance.

"One doesn’t have to be working oneself in industry to die in this way," he said.

"There was significant asbestos exposure during a long period of time."

Speaking after the inquest, her brother Stuart Ramplee said his sister "was so full of life" and travelled extensively the year she died, visiting Hong Kong, new York, Australia, the Seychelles and Dubai.

Recording a verdict of death due to an industrial disease, Mr Wiseman said: "The way in which events happened in this case is not in my experience uncommon, but perhaps it is uncommon for someone quite so young.

Her brother Stuart said despite her condition, mrs Bhatti, whose daughters Luci and Rachel, are both in their 20s, "never complained".

Lawyers are hoping to secure compensation for Annette’s family.

Compensation for relatives of asbestos victims in ‘landmark’ UK ruling

The UK’s Supreme Court decided that liability was "triggered" when employees were exposed to asbestos dust – not when symptoms of mesothelioma emerged sometimes decades later.

Solicitors said the ruling meant that victims were covered by policies in place when asbestos fibres were inhaled – and employers’ insurers would have to meet compensation claims.

Families said they hoped that the decision by a panel of five Supreme Court justices in London would end years of litigation and lead to speedy insurance payouts.

Judges said industrial diseases which could lie dormant for long periods raised "peculiar" legal difficulties – and liability for deaths caused by mesothelioma, a "hideous" and "inevitably fatal" cancer of lung linings, had pre-occupied courts in recent years.

"This is a landmark ruling which will affect thousands of victims of asbestos," said Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union.

UK solicitor Carol Ann Hepworth, whose firm John Pickering and Partners represents hundreds of victims’ families, estimated that some payouts could top $150,000.

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