Qld asbestos manufacturer fined $1.21 million

Monday, 24 June, 2024

Qld asbestos manufacturer fined $1.21 million

A Queensland jury has ordered Amaca Pty Ltd (formerly known as James Hardie & Co Pty Ltd) to pay a total of $1.21 million and a sum of $800,000 for general damages and loss of life expectancy to Mr Kim Martin, a 77-year-old suffering from mesothelioma resulting from exposure to asbestos products manufactured by James Hardie & Co.

Martin was diagnosed with asbestos-related pleural disease in 2013 and with deadly mesothelioma in 2021. Martin’s case reportedly marks the first pain and suffering award for a mesothelioma victim in Queensland.

Martin handled James Hardie products and attended their factories in Western Australia and Queensland regularly between 1967 and 1975. He also cut and installed James Hardie products during private renovations in Western Australia in 1978 and 1979. More than 50 years later, he can still recall working with James Hardie products in factories and warehouses, often with his bare hands.

“I didn’t see any warning labels about asbestos or dust released from the asbestos cement sheets I carried and worked with. There were no signs at the James Hardie factories about the dangers of what we were handling,” Martin said.

Sean Sweeney, Slater and Gordon Legal Counsel in Dust Diseases, said the news is a huge win for all Australians who have been exposed to the deadly fibres which continue to impact workers and home renovators decades later. “This is a watershed moment for victims of mesothelioma, marking the first occasion that a Queensland Court has assessed damages for a plaintiff suffering from asbestos-related disease,” Sweeney said.

Slater and Gordon represented Martin, among others, in the battle for compensation for asbestos victims against James Hardie. Sweeney said this is an important step towards holding asbestos manufacturers accountable for their actions.

“We commend the members of the jury for providing justice for Mr Martin and his family. However, there are no winners in a case like this when a wonderful life has been cruelly cut short by an entirely avoidable disease. Mr Martin has demonstrated extraordinary courage in his fight against James Hardie & Co, obtaining the first award for damages for mesothelioma in Queensland. However, what is important to Kim and his family is the recognition that James Hardie failed him, and so many others, and has been held accountable for their actions,” Sweeney said.

Image credit: iStock.com/Paul D Wade

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