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Widow Of Former Billingham Mechanic Appeals For Witnesses After Asbestos-Related Death

Expert Industrial Disease Lawyers Helping Family To Find Answers


A heartbroken widow is appealing for help in an asbestos investigation after a coroner confirmed that her husband, a former Middlesbrough Borough Council worker, died of an industrial disease.

James Parker, from Billingham, Cleveland died on 6 April 2014, aged 79, after a short battle with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs which is caused by exposure to hazardous asbestos dust. 

An inquest on 8 August 2014 held at the Coroner’s Court recorded a verdict of industrial disease.

Before his death he and his wife Catherine instructed specialist industrial disease experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate the working conditions at the various places he worked while employed by the local council in 1969 to 1998.

During this time the council went through a series of restructures and James was employed at depots on Stockton Road, between Thornaby and Middlesbrough, Norton High Steet, Norton and Cowpen Lane, Billingham. During his time at these depots he serviced vehicles for Teesside Borough Council, Stockton District Council, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Cleveland County Council and Middlesbrough Borough Council.

He believed he was exposed to asbestos at each of these facilities as dust was created as he and his colleagues serviced the brakes and clutches of local authority refuse lorries.

James also believed he was exposed to asbestos while working at the Stockton Road depot due to the fabric of the building, as the underside of the roof had been sprayed with asbestos, which would flake and fall to the floor of the depot or remain in the air. 

Now, his wife Catherine, backed by the legal team at Irwin Mitchell, is appealing to any of James’ former colleagues to come forward with information about the presence of asbestos dust and the working conditions at the depots where he worked as a mechanic in the hope of securing justice for his family.

Roger Maddocks, a Partner and specialist industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said:
Expert Opinion
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes a significant amount of distress and suffering for victims like James who worked in industries where he was regularly exposed to asbestos dust.

“Sadly, many employers did not take steps to manage the serious risks of asbestos exposure, despite knowing how dangerous it is, leaving so many workers now suffering the terrible affects.

“We hope that James’s former co-workers who worked for the local authorities in the Middlesbrough area will come forward to help answer the many questions his family have about his exposure as well as what measures, if any, were in place to protect employees like him.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner

Catherine, 68, who was married to James for 46 years said: “It was a complete shock to lose James and it has been a struggle to come to terms with him not being with me after being by my side for so many years.  As a family we are devastated that he was diagnosed with this terminal illness after being exposed to asbestos through simply going to work.

“I urge anyone who worked with him in his 30 years with councils in the area to come forward with any information so we can move his case forward and begin to move on with our lives.”

Anyone with any information about the working conditions at the depots of Teesside Borough Council, Cleveland County Council of Middlesbrough Borough Council is asked to contact Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0095 or email roger.maddocks@irwinmitchell.com.

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