Expert advice from Roper James helped former dockyard worker to receive compensation

Ray Jones worked in Devonport Dockyard for more than 40 years – and it eventually cost him his life.

After starting work at the age of 15, Ray had a number of different jobs at the dockyard, including working on naval ships stripping lagging.

It was here that he was exposed to asbestos, but at the time little was known about the devastating effect this could have in later life.

Ray took early retirement at the age of 59 and then kept himself busy and active. He was generally fit and well – until March 2016 when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 75.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which develops in the lining of the lungs and is closely linked to asbestos exposure.

Hundreds of former dockyard workers have been affected by the condition and millions of pounds of compensation have been paid to the victims.

Ray’s family were obviously devastated by the news. His daughter Debbie said: “We were told that dad’s condition was incurable and inoperable and that he had about a year to live.

“We obviously wanted to make the most of the time he had left and received advice on the palliative care available as well as the possibility of claiming compensation.”

Debbie turned to Roper James Solicitors, who are specialists in claims arising from the workplace. She knew the company well because she managed an office complex at the time in Cattedown where Roper James were then located.

“I got to know Tim Roper and the other members of the team well and knew that they had an excellent reputation for their professionalism and experience,” said Debbie.

Tim, who is one of the directors of Roper James said: “I was instructed by Debbie to act for her father in the personal injury claim when he developed mesothelioma as a consequence of being negligently exposed to asbestos while working at the dockyard.

“Sadly it is a very common story for Plymothians – a terrible disease which is terminal. As Raymond’s diagnosis was poor I pulled out all the stops to ensure his claim was settled during his life time,” he added.

Debbie added: “The MOD eventually admitted liability and Roper James were successful in securing substantial compensation in a short space of time.

“The compensation meant that we had the resources to provide comfort and care for my father in the last few months of his life. In fact he remained well until February last year when his health started to deteriorate. We had been able to spend quality time with him, including trips to London and other excursions.”

Raymond sadly passed away in May last year, having spent the last few months living with Debbie and her family in Hartley.

At the time Roper James did not give advice on Wills, so Tim referred the family to another firm of solicitors to draft a Will and put his affairs in order.

Since that time Roper James have established a Wills and Probate department, following the appointment of Melanie Cotterill (see separate panel).

Debbie added: “I cannot thank Roper James enough for the support and advice which they provided at such a difficult time for all of us.”

Roper James specialise in claims arising from the workplace – and they have now added estate planning to the range of services available to private clients.

This follows the appointment of Melanie Cotterill in December last year. Melanie, who has 15 years legal experience, has established a Wills and Probate service which embraces Lifetime Wealth Planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts and Inheritance Tax, Disputed Wills and advice on Care Home funding assessments.

Roper James offer free initial advice for private and commercial clients on all its services.

For further information contact Roper James on 01752 546448 or visit the website on


First published in the Plymouth Magazine – April 2018

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