A man dying from an asbestos related cancer has received substantial compensation following a three day trial in Teesside High Court.

Mesothelioma sufferer Ian Waite, 62, from Seaton Carew near Hartlepool was awarded compensation after His Honour Judge Peter Bowers ruled he was negligently exposed to asbestos while unloading cargo ships in Hartlepool docks.

Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority, now owned by P D Teesport Ltd, denied that Mr Waite had been exposed to asbestos during his employment.

While there have been many successful asbestos compensation claims against the port authority they have been brought by former dockers who were handling consignments of asbestos.

Exposed to asbestos working as a docker

Mr Waite was exposed to asbestos working as a docker from 1972 until the late 1980’s unloading timber brought to Hartlepool on Russian cargo ships. He recalled the pipe work in the ships’ holds was covered with asbestos and that he was exposed to asbestos dust when the pipe work insulation was disturbed as the timber was being unloaded.

Mr Waite, who has a wife and daughter, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2007. There is no cure for this cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos.

He was advised to contact asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors to claim compensation.

Thompsons obtained detailed evidence to prove that asbestos was present on the ships’ pipe work in the areas where Mr Waite worked. P D Teesport Limited called witnesses to dispute the claim at trial.

This compensation will ensure my family have financial security

Mr Waite said he wanted to make sure his family were provided for and hoped that his case would raise awareness about the dangers faced by dockers in Hartlepool and other ports around the country.

He said: “At 62 my working life is now over but this compensation will ensure my family have financial security. I never expected the claim to get to court in my life time and it is a relief that it has all been taken care of so quickly.

“It was a great shock to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. I’ve had chemotherapy and taken the decision to live life as normally as I can. So far it seems to be working.”

Helen Jones from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This case was fought all the way to trial because P D Teesport disputed Mr Waite’s account that asbestos was present on the pipe work in the ships. It was important the judge was able to evaluate the evidence from Mr Waite and the other witnesses to decide on the truth of the matter.

“The court found resolutely in our client’s favour. I am pleased that it was possible to finalise the claim during his lifetime. This is the right result for Mr Waite, who can now concentrate on his family.”

This news story was also published by Hartlepool Mail.