Widow ‘poisoned by husband’s asbestos hugs’

A factory worker who came home each night covered in asbestos dust unwittingly poisoned his wife with hugs and kisses according to a High Court claim.

Paula Briggs died four decades after her husband Jack had inadvertently exposed her to the deadly substance each time he returned in the evening.

However he had himself died before his wife of over 50 years fell ill with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, in 2014. Lawyers for Mrs Briggs’ family now claim her husband’s former employer was responsible for her death.

A claim lodged in the High Court alleges BBA Aviation Plc did not do enough to protect the couple from Dewsbury in West Yorks from the deadly substance.

The couple’s daughter, Lisa Wharton, is suing for up to £110,000 in damages on behalf of her mother’s estate.

Peter Cowan, her lawyer, said Mr Briggs returned home from working as a labourer at the factory in Cleckheaton, still dressed in his work clothing and footwear.

He would remove his boots in the porch and shake off the worst of the dust before putting them in the pantry.

Mr Cowan said:

“He would greet the deceased with a hug and a kiss. He would then go about his activities in the house. Later on he would remove his dusty clothing and place it in the laundry basket.

The deceased would later sort the clothing from the laundry basket, shaking off the dust from the work clothing and in particular removing the dust which had gathered in the trouser turnups and in the various pockets.

Having done so, she would place the clothing in the washing machine. She would have to sweep up the dust off the kitchen floor, porch and pantry which had been shed from her husband’s footwear, clothing and person.

She would shake out his work bag, which was also contaminated with asbestos fibres and dust. As a result of the deceased’s said exposure to asbestos fibres and dust, she suffered injury and death.”

The High Court claim explains Mr Briggs had worked as a labourer at a factory in Cleckheaton and at the Queens Mill Warehouse in the 1970s and 1980s.

There, it is claimed, he was exposed to large quantities of asbestos dust – taking it home on his clothing and boots, and in his hair.

Mr Cowan claims that Mr Briggs’ former employers ought to have known of the risk they were exposing him and his close family to.

Mr Briggs died, aged 76, after suffering a brain haemorrhage at his home in September 2011.

His wife fell ill in March 2014, when she became short of breath. She died in August 2014, aged 79. A BBA Aviation spokesman said:

“It is not appropriate to discuss ongoing legal proceedings. BBA Aviation no longer operates in asbestos-using industries.”