Wife Appeals For Help Following Husband's Asbestos-Related Death

Expert Asbestos Lawyers Ask Former Colleagues To Come Forward With Information


The widow of a grandfather who died from the asbestos-related condition Mesothelioma is appealing to his former work colleagues to help provide information about where he might have been exposed to the deadly dust.

James Rooney, from Blaydon near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, died in July 2014 following a long battle with mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.

Before his death, the 85-year-old instructed industrial illness experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to help investigate the conditions he faced and now his wife Wendy has vowed to continue the battle for justice he started.

She is joining the firm’s calls for James’ former work colleagues to get in touch in the hope they might provide information about the presence of asbestos and working conditions he faced.

Before his death, James recalled coming into contact with asbestos at three of his former employers. The first was between 1943 and 1946 when he joined a company called Hawthorns on Forth Lane in Newcastle at the age of 14 as an apprentice plater/boiler maker. He said that the boiler makers who worked next to him worked in a very dusty environment, likely to have been generated by asbestos which was used in the boilers for its fire and heat resistant properties.

From 1971 to 1972 James worked for Vickers Armstrong on Scotwood Road as a fitter to assemble large press machines that were used to manufacture car panels. He told his legal team that the building was incredibly dusty and much of the pipework was lagged with asbestos.

The final job in which James could recall coming into contact with asbestos was when he worked for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as a driver delivering packages for 10 years from 1983. The drivers used an old boiler house, which was next to the garage where the vans were kept, as a ‘rest room’. He recalled the pipes in the room were lagged with asbestos and halfway through his employment with the company, workmen had been in and ripped down the asbestos lagging which had been left in a pile on the floor.

Roger Maddocks, is a Partner and expert asbestos lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office.

Expert Opinion
Before his death Mr Rooney could vividly recall being exposed to asbestos at three of his former employers and we would now like to hear from any of his former colleagues as they may have vital information about the presence of the material and working conditions.

“His family have been left devastated by his death and would like to see accountability and justice for what he went through which is why it is so important that people who may be able to help come forward.

“Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos that can take up to 50 years to develop. Companies have been well aware of the dangers of not protecting staff since as far back as the 1950s so there is no excuse for staff not to have been warned or given protective clothing and equipment.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner

James began to experience chest pains and breathlessness in 2012. In early 2014 he developed pain in his side and abdomen, and subsequently had three litres of fluid drained from his lung. He was informed of his diagnosis of mesothelioma on the 1st of May 2014.  Mr Rooney sadly passed away on the 7th of July 2014, only a few months after receiving his diagnosis.

Wife of almost 46 years, Wendy, added: “When James was given the diagnosis of mesothelioma we were devastated and he thought long and hard about where he may have been exposed to asbestos dust.

"He was determined to get answers and justice for his illness but sadly died before this could happen. I’m determined to continue the process he started before his death.

“I hope that any of his former colleagues from Hawthorns, Vickers Armstrong and the DWP come forward as any information they have may prove vital in securing justice for James’ death.”

Anyone who thinks they might be able to help is asked to contact Roger Maddocks or Emma Crowther of Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0095 or email roger.maddocks@irwinmitchell.com, emma.crowther@irwinmitchell.com.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to mesothelioma claims