No5 Chambers barrister, Mamta Gupta, represented the family of a lady from Dudley in the West Midlands at an inquest into the circumstances surrounding her death on 7th August 2007 after she contracted Legionnaires’ disease.
The inquest into the death of fifty-one year old Patricia Ashton, was held before a jury by HM Coroner for the Black Country, Robin Balmain, at the Council House in Smethwick. The jury returned a verdict of death by industrial disease.
There were found to be five cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Dudley area in 2007, including Patricia Ashton, who was in remission from Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Members of the jury heard that some industrial locations with cooling towers in Dudley were attended by Health and Safety Executive inspectors in addition to Environmental Health Officers from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.
Mamta Gupta, who provided her legal expertise pro bono, comments: “Following the visits, the HSE has gone on to prosecute at least one organisation and more actions are envisaged, as various breaches were identified at a handful of the industrial sites in the locality.
“The family members were pleased with the verdict and will now take some time to consider what they learned during the course of the inquest.”
Death from Legionnaires’ disease strikes in around 10%-15% of cases involving people who are otherwise healthy, but the incidence is higher among those whose immune system is weak, as was the case with Patricia Ashton.
Legionnaires’ disease, which is a serious pneumonia, cannot be contracted from another person but is spread by water droplets from contaminated water systems.