Appeal For Sunderlandia Employees

Investigation Into Asbestos Exposure

26.02.2010

A former employee of the building firm Sunderlandia is calling for witnesses to come forward and help with an investigation into reports of exposure to asbestos dust resulting in him developing mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer.

Robert Cockburn (known as Charles), 75, a retired university lecturer, who was born in India and now lives in the York area worked for Sunderlandia between 1973 and 1976 where he was a project manager and labourer. His law firm Irwin Mitchell, believe that during this time it is likely that he was exposed to asbestos when breaking up Aga cookers, removing Artex ceilings, removing boilers and dealing with asbestolux.

Mr Cockburn suffers from mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer, which affects his left lung and is a condition he will now suffer from for the rest of his life.

Now Mr Cockburn and Irwin Mitchell are looking for people who worked alongside him at Sunderlandia, General Graham Street, Sunderland in the 1970s. The firm was set up as a building contractor who renovated, modernised and repaired houses. There were about 50 employees in total around this time and people who worked for this company may have taken part in labouring or project management.

Mr Cockburn now wants former employees of Sunderlandia to come forward, he said:  “I am devastated that this has happened to me. I am concerned that, as employees, we were not warned about the dangers nor sufficiently protected against asbestos exposure. I now have this serious condition that is greatly affecting my life, and there are probably others out there who have suffered similar exposure and could develop similar conditions.”

Ian Toft, an industrial illness specialist from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of lung cancer which causes great suffering to the victim and their families.

“We are investigating reports of asbestos exposure at Sunderlandia.  We would like to speak to anybody who worked with this company around the 1970s as they may be able to offer information on the working conditions affecting the workers.

He continues; “Over two thousand people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year; Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. It does not respond well to treatment, and treatment options are limited. Employers have a duty to take precautions with asbestos. There is no safe type of asbestos, and no safe level of asbestos exposure.”

Anyone who can help should call Ian Toft at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email Ian.Toft@irwinmitchell.com