The family of a Durham woman who died of asbestos-related cancer earlier this year have joined with specialist lawyers to appeal for her former workmates to come forward and help them gain answers regarding how she was exposed to the material.
Tina Handley, who moved to Northallerton in 2004, died aged 64 in August 2018 just over a year after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lung which is most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos.
Following her death, her family instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office to investigate her illness and whether it was related to her work history.
Now, as part of their ongoing investigations, the legal experts are keen to gather more information regarding whether Tina may have been exposed to asbestos during her time as an office worker for Durham County Council in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
With this in mind, they are keen to hear from anyone who worked alongside Tina or for the council across the period.
Emma Dumbleton, the specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office who is representing Tina’s family, said:
Expert Opinion“Just a few months on from Tina’s death, her loved ones remain understandably devastated by their loss.
“The family have a number of questions regarding how she developed mesothelioma and are keen to get more information on the issues.
“Our initial research suggests there could have been asbestos in a host of locations within the County Hall office where Tina worked, including in wall panels, ceiling tiles, fire doors and notice boards.
“Sadly this is one of a growing number of cases which relate to asbestos exposure in public buildings such as council sites, hospitals and schools. While asbestos has often been linked to industrial settings, these types of issues are becoming more and more common.” Emma Dumbleton - Solicitor
Tina worked as a clerk, typist and personal assistant within the social services department at Durham County Council between 1998 and 2004. Throughout her time there she worked at County Hall in the city.
Her son Toby, 42, said: “When Mum was diagnosed with mesothelioma she was under no doubt that she was exposed to asbestos while working for the council.
“She specifically recalled contractors removing asbestos from her office, and from the area around her desk, in around 2000. I understand, from what mum said, the removal operations were extensive and included the closure of a main staircase.
“She also told me that everyone in the building was talking about the issue and sharing concerns regarding whether it was going to pose a risk to them.”
Toby’s legal team at Irwin Mitchell are also keen to speak with any of Tina’s former colleagues from her time as an auxiliary nurse at Dryburn Hospital in the Gynaecology and ENT departments.
Tina worked at the hospital between 1992 and 1995, and the legal specialists believe that it is possible that she could have been exposed to the harmful asbestos dust and fibres during this time.
Toby added: “It was devastating to see how mesothelioma affected mum and ultimately led to a major decline in her health. She was clearly in a lot of pain and it was very hard to see.
“We all loved her so much and are just desperate to get the answers we feel she deserved regarding her illness. We would be hugely grateful to anyone who may be able to help us.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Emma Dumbleton at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 279 0105 or email Emma.Dumbleton@IrwinMitchell.com.
Read about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in mesothelioma cases.