A mother who was diagnosed with a fatal asbestos related cancer will be deprived of compensation unless her employer’s insurer can be found.

Sharon Walker (nee Barr), 45, from Leeds was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer of the lining of the lungs, in August 2010.

There is no cure for the cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos.

She was exposed to asbestos when she was 16 working as a seamstress for Benjamin Simon & Sons in Kirkstall Road, Leeds but she is unlikely to receive compensation from her former employers because it no longer exists and no trace can be found of its insurers.

Asbestos compensation specialists

Asbestos compensation specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, who represent Sharon Walker are reiterating the need of an Employers Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) to pay compensation to asbestos victims who cannot trace their former employer’s insurers.

Thompsons has been unable to trace the insurance company on cover for Benjamin Simon for the period Mrs Walker worked there despite undertaking extensive searches including the Association of British Insurers’ Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO).

ELTO was set up to help claimants trace insurers where the employer has ceased trading. It has been unable to identify the insurer in Mrs Walker’s case.

From 1972 employers had a legal duty to hold Employers Liability Insurance but neither the employers nor the insurers were required to keep records of the policies and many have since been lost or destroyed.

Benjamin Simon & Sons changed its name to Rushbeam Ltd

Benjamin Simon & Sons changed its name to Rushbeam Ltd in 1988. Rushbeam was dissolved in 1999. Insurers for the company since 1988 have been traced but are not liable for claims from earlier periods of employment

Thompsons specialist asbestos lawyers have previous experience trying to track down the employer liability insurers for the same company after being contacted by the family of a seamstress who died from mesothelioma in 2004.

Irene Stephenson was 84 when she died of the cancer after working for Benjamin Simon & Sons for 26 years. After a seven and a half year search Thompsons was able to find employment liability insurers for the period between 1974 and 1975 and were successful in securing compensation for Mrs Stephenson’s family.

However the insurer for the period when Mrs Walker worked from 1981 to 1987 remains untraced.

Instructed Thompsons Solicitors to claim compensation

Mrs Walker’s husband, Philip, instructed Thompsons Solicitors to claim compensation on her behalf.

Mrs Walker, who has a 18-year-old daughter, and was exposed to asbestos used in the factory's press when making suits.

She said: “It was a great shock to be diagnosed with a fatal cancer at 45. I feel overwhelming sadness that I won’t be here to see my daughter grow up. I was determined to claim compensation to ensure her financial security in the future. She plans to go to university and I was going to help her fund her studies.

“To be told that it is unlikely that I will ever receive a penny because my employers insurers couldn’t be traced was a double blow. If an ELIB was established it will give me a great peace of mind to know that one way or another my daughter would be provided for following my death.”

Urgent and compelling need for an ELIB

Oliver Collett at Thompsons Solicitors who represents both Mrs Walker and Mrs Stephenson’s family’s said: “Mrs Walker is in an appalling scenario where Mrs Walker has been diagnosed with mesothelioma but is almost certainly not going to receive compensation to ensure her daughter is cared for in the future.

“We spent seven long years tracing insurers for Benjamin Simon and Sons for Mrs Stephenson’s family and are undertaking similar investigations now on Mrs Walker’s behalf. It is heart-wrenching to know that we have found insurers for the periods either side of her employment but not for the years that she worked there. It seems very likely that there was insurance but that the records have been lost or destroyed by the employer and insurers. This case highlights the urgent and compelling need for an ELIB.

“An ELIB would dissipate any anguish and uncertainty and would ensure those entitled to compensation receive it where no insurer can be traced.”

Anyone who has any information about Benjamin Simon and Sons should contact Oliver Collett on 08000 224 224.