What Happens When lumber Liquidators Are Sued?

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The Bellawood lawsuit is a case that has attracted a lot of media attention, mainly due to the legal implications it has. On 3 April 2021, David Bellawood died in hospital from a massive coronary heart attack. He was 45. He was reported to have been working as an independent timber liquidator for many years and it was widely assumed that this would result in his death. However, it was revealed that the deceased did not disclose to any of his workers or the company that he had been working as a liquidator.

As a result of the lack of full disclosure of his duties, Bellawood’s employer, Bellawood Logistics (which is now known simply as Bellawood), did not inform him of his duties when he became ill and later in hospital, did not pay out for work which he had done.

His wife also told the court that at the time of his death, her husband had requested that they leave their three children with friends and asked them not to contact him. This led to his death. After his employers failed to compensate him for his loss of income, the case was taken up by the Employment Tribunal.

It was initially believed that Mr. Bellawood died as a result of a heart attack, but the Medical Council ruled that there was nothing to worry about. They concluded that Mr. Bellawood died as the result of congestive heart failure brought about by high blood pressure. The employer was not told that this condition could have been avoided by fitting an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) into his employment contract. His wife said that her husband suffered from heart problems for years without being told of his IVA entitlement.

The tribunal found that despite the employer’s best intentions, Mr. Bellawood died as the direct result of “unlawful and unfair dismissal”.

His wife was not paid her normal wage and was made redundant after just 18 months of employment. She was not made aware of the legally binding agreement that her employment would be terminated as a direct result of her IVA claim.

This was then allowed to go unchecked for over two years, despite the knowledge that the workers should have been informed of their rights under industrial law. Despite notifying the Employment Tribunal, Bellawood continued to work until he died. When he died, his widow became entitled to her normal redundancy package. However, the employer did not inform her that this would only happen if the claims were successful – if she claimed in an unfair dismissal case. This meant that her compensation would be lower than it could have been under normal circumstances.

The Tribunal found that the lack of communication between the employer and the employee was the main cause of the delay in processing the claim.

It is important to always keep in mind that these cases are dealt with locally by experienced judges who deal with these cases daily. Their job is to ensure that justice is served, whatever the circumstances. If you feel that you are the victim of bullying and harassment, you must get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible to begin the process of getting compensation.

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