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Terminally-ill ex-worker 's court action.

A FORMER Teesside shop girl struck down by a terminal illness, is seeking more than PS50,000 in compensation, claiming she was exposed to toxic material while at work.

Susan Garnham, 60, says she was exposed to high levels of asbestos dust while working as a shop assistant at a Littlewoods department store in Middlesbrough between 1972 and 1994.

In a writ lodged at London's High Court, her lawyers claim she has developed mesothelioma - an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs - as a result of being exposed to "debris and dust" from asbestos-lagged pipes and girders in the stockroom of the store.

She is now suing Littlewoods Ltd for at least PS50,000 in damages, claiming her illness is the result of her former employers' negligence.

In the writ, solicitors representing Mrs Garnham, who started working at the store when she was 19, say that the stockroom of the store was so contaminated with the potentially deadly material that she sometimes had to work in "a cloud of asbestos dust" when fetching boxes of merchandise to serve customers.

It states: "Asbestos dust sometimes fell on her face and hair. She sometimes had to drop boxes of merchandise on the floor which caused a cloud of asbestos dust to blow up in the air. Mrs Garnham's shop uniform would often get contaminated with asbestos dust which she then brushed off by hand before returning to the shop.

"Asbestos debris and dust accumulated on the floor of the stockroom but this was swept up dry. All the aforesaid work and activities exposed Mrs Garnham to much asbestos dust."

The writ claims Littlewoods was negligent and in breach of its statutory duties in allowing Mrs Garnham to work in conditions where asbestos was present without adequate ventilation or protective equipment. The contents of the writ have yet to be tested in evidence before a judge. Littlewoods declined to comment on the case.
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2013
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