Hicks v Amaca Pty Limited [2010] NSWDDT 16 – Kearns J

Published 07 May 2015

Grahame Hicks is the Plaintiff in this matter. There is no dispute as to his contraction of asbestosis during his employment with the Defendant, Amaca Pty Limited, in 1963 and 1964. This matter is one of an issue of damages.

Mr Hicks was 56 at the time of proceedings. As a result of his asbestosis, and the symptoms that accompany it, he does not go out very often. He is gradually withdrawn from recreational and social activities.

The Plaintiff has not worked since 2000. He has prior back and neck injuries and at this time went on a disability pension as a result of these injuries. He is currently on an aged pension.

Medical Evidence

Kearns J accepted the following evidence from both the Plaintiff’ and Defendant’s medical experts:

1.       The Plaintiff has asbestosis in a relatively mild form;

2.       The disease has progressed and will continue to progress;

3.       It will progress at a rather slow rate and the Plaintiff will become more disabled as it does progress.

Evidence Relating to Care

In regards to future care,  the two medical experts differed. The Plaintiff’s medical expert stated that Mr Hicks would require 24/7 assistance in his last 5 years of life. The Defendant’s medical expert set this at 3-5 hours per day, with 24/7 assistance required for his last 6 months of life. Kearns J accepted the defendant’s evidence  as follows:

1.       Over the next 5 years Mr Hicks will not require any assistance;

2.       The period 5-10 years from now Mr Hicks will need 1-2 hours per day;

3.       The period 10-15 years from now Mr Hicks will need 3-5 hours per day, with 24 hours a day needed in his last 6 months.

In light of this, His Honour did note that both doctors agreed on the probable date of death, which he set at November 2024 for the purposes of calculating future expenses (Griffiths v Kerkemeyer).

Orders

His Honour made the following orders in regards to the total amount awarded to Mr Hicks:

1.       General Damages:                           $150,000.00

2.       Loss of expectation of life:           $4,000.00

3.       Past expenses:                                 $14,943.24

4.       Future expenses:                            $174,578.00

5.       Interest:                                              $10,901.95.

The total amount awarded to Mr Hicks was $354,423.19.