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Family Of Stourport Man Who Died From Cancer In Search For Workmates

Vinyl Chloride Causes industrial Illness


The widow of a Worcestershire man, who died from cancer, is appealing for his former work colleagues to help in her legal battle for justice, after discovering a possible link between his death and a hazardous industrial chemical.

39 year old Jonathan Cooke from Stourport on Severn died on 4th December 2007 from stomach cancer. At the time of his death neither the clinicians treating his illness nor an inquest made the link between Mr Cooke's cancer and industrial disease.

However, it is understood that Mr Cooke worked for more than twenty years in a factory where vinyl chloride - a substance which has known links to cancer – is believed to have been used.

His devastated widow, Joanne has now launched a search for her husband's former work colleagues, as she hopes they may be able to shed more light on how Jonathan came into contact with vinyl chloride. She is also hoping to raise awareness of the potential dangers of vinyl chloride which is widely used in the automotive and PVC products industries.

Mr Cooke began working for Stourport based Dura Automotive Systems, in 1985, at the firm's Baldwin Road factory. Known to his workmates as 'Cookie', he was initially employed on the shop floor and working with plastic and PVC which was used in the production of bonnet release cables and brake and clutch cables.

In the late 1990s the firm opened a new factory in nearby Worcester Road. Mr Cooke was promoted to Quality Control before working his way up to the position of 'Director of Quality, Europe' for the firm.

Mr Cooke first became unwell in the summer of 2007. He was admitted to hospital in August with severe pain in his legs and lower back which later spread to his stomach and other organs. Following a number of medical tests, he was diagnosed, in September 2007, with a cancer of the vascular system (angiosarcoma) which had spread to his stomach.

His condition steadily worsened and he was transferred to St Richards Hospice where sadly, on 4th December 2007, he passed away.

Mr Cooke leaves behind his wife, Joanne, as well as a 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.

Joanne Cooke commented: "Jonathan has left a huge hole in our family. It's still very difficult to come to terms with his death. I had known him since he was 15. We were married in 1991 and he was just the most fantastic husband and father, who always put his family at the centre of everything he did."

Satinder Bains, an industrial illness expert with the Birmingham office of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, is representing the Cooke family. She explained: "Vinyl chloride is an extremely hazardous, controlled substance which has been added to the top 30 list of carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in Europe.

"Although there is a recognised, cancerous risk if exposed to the substance, many clinicians currently do not make the link between exposure to vinyl chloride and the presence of cancer in a patient. In Mr Cooke's case, no post mortem was carried out and his employment history did not form part of the inquest into his death which returned a verdict of disseminated angiosarcoma.

"In order to pursue justice for Joanne and her family, it would be helpful to have further information regarding the work practices undertaken at Dura Automotive between 1985 and 2007."

Anyone who worked at Dura Automotive in Stourport should contact Satinder Bains at Irwin Mitchell solicitors via satinder.bains@irwinmitchell.com or on 0370 1500 100.