Hampshire, UK—The widow of a man who contracted the asbestos cancer mesothelioma while working at a school is now bringing suit against that school.
Rosemary Kitchin is asking for £200,000 in compensation for the death of her husband, David Kitchin, at age 60. Kitchin was exposed to asbestos while employed as a master at Farleigh School, the suit claims, in part because he habitually passed through a main route into the school called the Stone Passageway. That passageway was contaminated with the toxic asbestos dust from friable insulation surrounding the central heating and hot water pipes. Students were in the habit of jumping up to swing on the pipes, which further added asbestos to the atmosphere. Kitchin also visited the boiler house, which had yet more pipes lagged with asbestos. Kitchin worked at Farleigh School from 1966 to 1969, and again from 1974 to 1986.
According to the lawsuit, the school administration was negligent because it exposed him to the risk, without any warning or protection from the asbestos fibers. The hallway was eventually closed due to asbestos contamination. Mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers are inhaled. Once inside the body, they can change the DNA of individual cells, causing those cells to replicate erratically. The mesothelium, which is a thin sheath surrounding and protecting the body’s internal organs, is most vulnerable to the needle-like and carcinogenic fibers. Mesothelioma can remain asymptomatic and undiagnosed in the body for up to 50 years, but usually claims its victims in a matter of months after being diagnosed. Kitchen was diagnosed in January 2008 after complaining of stomach pain, and was then diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, one of the rarer forms of this disease. There is no known cure for mesothelioma. Alumni of the elite Roman Catholic school have gone on to achieve prominence as politicians, sports stars, and entertainers, including actor Rupert Everett.