The idea that a noted researcher and professor could die from mesothelioma is shocking to the academic community, but that is exactly what happened to Oxford University’s “Keeper of the Books”, Professor Dennis Shaw. Shaw died last July at the age of 93 after having been diagnosed with the rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. After his diagnosis in December of 2016 and learning that his illness was caused by exposure to the deadly carcinogen, he meticulously began recording all of the various possible exposures that he had throughout his career, and documented them in a personal statement to his family which he penned immediately prior to his death.
Though staff at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library has not issued a statement regarding the asbestos exposure that Professor Shaw suffered and its role in his mesothelioma, they did provide comments on his loss. “Dr. Shaw was a valued colleague and is a much missed member of staff. Contributing significantly to the development of library services in Oxford, he became Keeper at a time of expansion.” That assignment may have led to his death, as between 1976 and 1991 part of his job responsibilities included spending an hour-and-a-half each day supervising construction in the library during the 1970s, which likely exposed him to large amounts of asbestos dust.
The assistant coroner for Oxford, Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, said, “Dr. Shaw sadly died on July 20 this year of mesothelioma, which possibly had work-related causes. He died suddenly in the night. Mesothelioma is a disease that comes about due to someone’s exposure to asbestos. He was not aware of any exposure but it is difficult to know when you’re clearing large amounts of dust during any building project. I would suggest the conclusion here is one of industrial disease.”
It is not year clear whether his family plans to pursue any type of legal action against the university, though his daughter did note, “The last 18 months of this life were marred by such a horrible disease.”
If you or someone you love is struck by malignant mesothelioma, you need to know your rights and to make sure that your family is provided all the benefits to which it is entitled. For information, contact us at 1-800-966-2244.