Case settled over asbestos-related death of former waiter at Bloom's

By James Brewster, March 20, 2012
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The daughter of a waiter who died from asbestos-related cancer after 30 years working in a Kosher restaurant today settled her damages claim against her late father's employers for £70,000.

Miltiades Charalambous worked as a waiter at Bloom's, on Whitechapel High Street, between 1967 and 1996, and died in 2010, aged 70, suffering from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs.

Helen Michael, Mr Charalambous' daughter, and the executrix of his will, sued M Bloom (Kosher) & Son Ltd, claiming that her father contracted the disease which ended his life at work.

Harry Steinberg, for Ms Michael, told Judge Martin McKenna at London's High Court her case was that her father's "devastating illness" was caused by him sorting dirty linen in the basement of the restaurant close to a boiler and pipes lagged with materials containing asbestos.

The company denied liability and a contested hearing was set to begin today to establish whether the restaurant was to blame for what happened to the long serving waiter.

But today an eleventh-hour compromise was reached, without admission of liability, whereby the company agreed to pay his family £70,790 to settle the case.

In his written submissions to the court, Mr Steinberg said that the issues in the case had been whether Mr Charalambous had been exposed to asbestos, and whether the company knew or ought to have known of the risk he was allegedly being exposed to.

"Throughout the course of the deceased's employment his duties included sorting out the dirty linen - table cloths, covering slips , serviettes - before it was taken away to be washed.

"He sorted out the dirty linen in the basement...The atmosphere in the basement was dusty and contaminated with asbestos fibres," he told the judge.

The company was not represented in court as the judge approved the settlement. Ms Michael, and her mother - Mr Charalambous's widow, Nedi - also did not attend the hearing.

Until its last branch closed in summer 2010, Bloom's restaurant was the longest-standing kosher restaurant in England.

    Last updated: 5:46pm, March 20 2012