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Thompsons Solicitors has welcomed ground-breaking damages of £258,000 awarded to the family of one of their clients who died just seven months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mrs Elizabeth Wolff and her family won the damages following the death of her husband William, 66 who was exposed to asbestos dust while working as a joiner for Weir Construction.

The company admitted liability but contested the level of damages, and proposed Mrs Wolff  should receive a settlement of around £35,000. 

Mrs Wolff’s legal team argued that the court should take account of awards in the £60,000 to £100,000 range which juries award to several members of the RAF Nimrod which exploded over Afghanistan.

Court of Session judge Lord Doherty awarded personal damages of £50,000 to Mrs Wolff, between £15,000 and £18,000 to each of the couple’s three daughters, and the first ever payment of £6,500 to their 13-year old granddaughter.

In his judgment Lord Doherty said: "The Nimrod cases need to be treated with very great care for two reasons.

“First, the awards appear to me to be at the very top of the range which might have been upheld had the verdicts been challenged.

"Second I think it not unreasonable to infer the awards reflect each jury's understandable sympathy for the families of young servicemen killed on active service in Afghanistan."

But he added: “Recent cases do suggest that some increase in the levels of judicial awards may perhaps be required”.

Laura Blane, Thompsons Solicitors’ Partner and specialist in asbestos cases said: “We welcome Lord Doherty’s view on the relationship between the level of judicial awards and those made by juries.

“The awards in this case are significantly higher than has been the norm in recent mesothelioma cases”.  

The court was told that Mr & Mrs Wolff had retired at the same time, with plans to explore Scotland and make a trip to Australia, but within months of leaving her job as a hospital social worker who helped care for the elderly and terminally ill, Mrs Wolff found herself tending to her husband.

Lord Doherty said the couple had started dating as teenagers and had been married 44 years when Mr Wolff died in March 2007.

Lord Doherty said: “He had been her only boyfriend. They were a devoted… loving couple who had been life-long companions. She was, and is, bereft at the loss of the deceased. She feels robbed of his love, companionship, help and guidance.”

One of the elements of the damages claim was for the distress and anxiety endured by Mrs Wolff at the thought of her husband’s suffering, and for her grief and sorrow at his death.

Mrs Wolff said: “I was quite overwhelmed by the result of the court case because I never expected so much for myself.

“Going to court is a very daunting experience but I felt assured that Thompsons, with all their experience would not be going down that road unless they were confident of some measure of success.

“I am really grateful for Thompsons’ support and legal expertise and I would like other people in my position to realise the difference this can make. My original offer was £185,000 and the court award was £258,000.

“That’s really important because it recognises the devastation losing someone you love in these circumstances brings to the whole family.”

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