Mum dying ‘after asbestos exposure while working for Boots caused cancer’

A mum dying from cancer after being exposed to asbestos has received a six-figure payout.

It’s believed that Lynne Mitchell was exposed to the deadly dust while the Boots store she worked in was undergoing construction work in 1975.

The mum-of-two was a make-up consultant and supervisor at the store in Exeter, Devon, at the time, the Daily Record reports.

Lynne, 62, left school age 16 to join Boots and worked there for 12 years, leaving in 1986.

In 2007 she moved to France with her husband, Lawrence, to pursue her dream of running a farm there.

At the beginning of 2016, Lynne started feeling pain in her side which persisted for months to come.

The following June she sought medical advice after losing weight and, following tests, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma – a form of cancer which usually develops decades after exposure to asbestos – at the age of 59.

Following her diagnosis, Lynne underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy. The couple were forced to sell their farm at a reduced price and moved back to Devon to be near their sons, James and Charlie.

Recalling her time at Boots, Lynne, of Poltimore, said: “The building works lasted approximately six months and despite the workmen cleaning up regularly, the whole environment remained very dusty.

“It was important to create a good impression to customers and so I swept and dusted the make-up counters throughout the day.”

Lynne, who is a member of the South West Asbestos Support Awareness Group, added: “My diagnosis was extremely hard to take and it definitely has had a huge impact on our lives. There was no way we could keep the farm going and having to sell up and leave our dream life behind was particularly difficult.

“There have been ups and downs over the last few years. However, I’m determined not to let mesothelioma beat me and have tried to continue as normal a life as possible.

“I’ve always been busy and try to remain as active as I can, particularly enjoying time with my young grandchildren.

“I’m in regular contact with my oncologist and am keen to explore different medical treatments that may be available, including immunotherapy.”

Following her diagnosis, Lynne instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether her illness was linked to working at Boots.

Following legal submissions, Boots UK Ltd admitted liability for her illness and agreed a six-figure settlement. The money will help fund Lynne’s future care needs as well as potential medical treatment, including immunotherapy, which is generally unavailable on the NHS except through clinical trials.

Lynne said: “Knowing that this settlement means my future needs are taken care of is a huge relief.

“I hope that by speaking out people realise how dangerous asbestos is and how important it is for employers to protect their staff.”

Laura Wilkinson, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Lynne, said: “Lynne’s case vividly highlights the terrible legacy that asbestos has created. While some people may commonly associate asbestos with traditional, heavy industry, its use was widespread in public buildings such as shops, offices, schools and hospitals.

“What makes Lynne’s case more shocking is the relatively young age at which she was diagnosed and that the risks associated with even low level asbestos exposure should have been known by employers at the time of her exposure.

“Despite her diagnosis Lynne has remained positive throughout and has shown a real determination to make the most of life.

“This has helped her surpass medical expectations as far as prognosis is concerned.

“The case to ensure Lynne received a settlement that reflected the impact her illness has had and her future needs are met was complex. While nothing can make up for what has happened we’re pleased to have secured her the justice she deserves.

“We hope that the settlement will provide Lynne with peace of mind that her future care and treatment needs will be met.”

Boots were approached for a comment.