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Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer News - Return to Menu

Legal win for dust disease victims


27 November 2005 - TASMANIA'S asbestosis victims have scored a major legal victory after three years of fighting.

And the Beulah man who led the fight is relieved the families of those who die from dust- related diseases will now be looked after.

This week, Attorney-General Judy Jackson tabled legislation which will give families the right to recover damages for pain and suffering if the victim of a dust- related disease dies before the courts finalise their case.

"In the past, lawyers would hold off and drag cases out just waiting for the victim to die," Asbestos Diseases Tasmania president Laurie Appleby said on Thursday.

"A friend of mine found out he had mesothelioma in October last year and died on New Year's Eve. That's how fast it happens and the families were left with nothing and no legal claim."

Mr Appleby said between 20 and 30 Tasmanian families would benefit from the new rules.

"I haven't had any feedback from the Government. I didn't even know this had happened until you rang," he said.

"But it is good news to get after campaigning for change for three long years - it certainly has been a battle."

Tasmania's asbestos disease sufferers won a compensation law victory in January and they needed more legal change to give those new rules some teeth.

Up to 100 Tasmanian asbestos victims are seeking compensation and changes to the Limitations Act (which removed the six-year deadline on claims) have allowed them to do so.

However, a pain and suffering exclusion meant victims often died before their claims moved through the courts, leaving their families without recourse.

The symptoms of asbestosis and other asbestos-related illnesses sometimes do not appear for 40 years, but the disease can claim the lives of victims within six months of being diagnosed.

Mr Appleby is a former Goliath Cement Works employee and he has led the fight for Tasmanian victims to have the same rights as their mainland counterparts.

Mr Appleby said the Goliath works at Railton had produced all the asbestos products in Tasmania from the 1930s until the 1980s and 90 per cent of the people who are now able to make a claim were former cement works employees.

Ms Jackson said Tasmania was the only State where the pain and suffering component of a damages claim disappeared when the victim died.

"We did not think this was fair," Ms Jackson said.

"Dust-related conditions, such as mesothelioma, generally have a long latency period.

"The amendment will help relieve the pressure on sick and dying plaintiffs to push ahead with litigation as quickly as possible. At the same time, it will remove any incentive for defendants to drag out legal proceedings unnecessarily."

Firm vows to pay asbestos victims

The Asahi Shimbun

12/26/2005 - AMAGASAKI, Hyogo Prefecture--The president of machinery manufacturer Kubota Corp. apologized Sunday for the high incidence of cancer afflicting people living near the firm's plant here and promised to compensate them.

The cancers are thought to have been caused by asbestos used at the plant.

Daisuke Hatakake, speaking to cancer patients and their families, said Kubota will offer the same compensation to each victim as it offered workers. Workers or their families received up to 32 million yen.(IHT/Asahi: December 26,2005)

Asbestos contributed to death

20 February 2006 - A 77-year-old retired scaffolder, whose colleagues threw asbestos “about like snowballs”, died from a combination of natural and industrial diseases, a coroners court heard.

John Edmed, 77, of The Fitches, Knodishall, near Saxmundham, died in Ipswich Hospital on September 26 2005.

An inquest into his death held at endeavour house in Ipswich on Wednesday heard Mr Edmed was fit and active until his health began to deteriorate in June 2002.

In a statement his wife Primrose said her husband had worked with asbestos years before but without health and safety procedures in place.

She added: “They threw it about like snowballs.”

In written evidence Ipswich Hospital's consultant physician Dr Douglas Seaton said Mr Edmed suffered from high blood pressure and recurrent strokes as well as the effects of “undoubted exposure to respirable asbestos dust”.

A post mortem examination concluded Mr Edmed died from a number of health problems including heart disease dementia and asbestosis.

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said: “It is difficult to be certain how each disease combined to cause death.

“It would be wrong to come back with a verdict of just natural causes.”

Dr Dean recorded a narrative verdict that “Mr Edmed died from the combined effects of natural and industrial diseases.”

Wear Valley fined over asbestos

* Health and Safety officer slams demolition company
* Contractor jailed after safety warning
* Companies fined after fatal fall from height
* Electrocuted worker costs contractor £133,000

27 August 2007 - Wear Valley District Council has had to pay nearly £26,000 after admitting six offences under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002.

The council was fined £18,000 at Darlington Magistrates Court. It was also ordered to pay £7,722 costs.

The case came after a HSE investigation followed a complaint in January 2006 by a maintenance worker, who discovered that the plant room of the council-run leisure centre where he had worked for many years contained asbestos.

HM Inspector of Health and Safety, Richard Bishop, said: "A survey had been carried out in 2001 which identified asbestos containing materials. This information was not acted upon and no-one who worked in the plant room was made aware. As a result, work that was liable to disturb the asbestos was done without the necessary precautions required by law to protect their health from exposure.

"This case should serve as a warning, not only to Local Authorities, but to everyone responsible for carrying out or contracting maintenance work on buildings where asbestos may be present.

"With up to 4,000 deaths per year - that's around 15 times the current rate of fatal accidents at work - asbestos-related diseases are the largest occupational killers in the UK. There is still a legacy of asbestos in buildings that needs addressing. It is estimated that some half a million non-domestic premises contain asbestos of some type. And this means there are still workers putting themselves at risk every day. Recent studies estimate that a quarter of those dying from an asbestos-related disease worked as electricians, plumbers, maintenance workers or builders."

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