Man’s wife awarded $472,586 for husband’s mesothelioma death

Date: Sep 19, 2017

The wife of a man who died earlier this year from mesothelioma has successfully convinced the Dust Diseases Tribunal that her husband developed the illness due to asbestos exposure in the workplace.

According to court documents, the plaintiff’s husband died after a “particularly aggressive” malignant tumour grew on his left lung. He was diagnosed with the disease in May 2016 and died aged 61 years on July 5 2017.

The deceased started proceedings in February this year but passed away before a hearing could be completed. His widow replaced him as the plaintiff.

In order to prove her case, she simply had to show that her husband was exposed to asbestos products during the course of his career.

The man’s employment history

Judge David Russell said the evidence in the case was “all one way”, with a clear link between the deceased’s role as a carpenter and his handling of asbestos products.

During the 1970s, the man assisted on factory roof construction projects that used asbestos cement building materials. His job often required cutting sheets containing asbestos with an angle grinder or power saw, releasing a significant amount of dust into the air.

Asbestos inhalation is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a disease that killed 575 people in the country last year, according to Australian Mesothelioma Registry data.

Workers compensation is available to people who develop dust-related diseases during their employment, although many patients do not show any symptoms for decades after exposure. Some individuals may already have retired when they discover the illness.

In this particular case, the man was working as a self-employed carpenter when he began suffering the shortness of breath that ultimately led to his diagnosis.

Judge awards compensation

Judge Russell ruled that the deceased had come into contact with asbestos materials during his employment. He awarded several heads of damage to the plaintiff:

  • General damages (including interest): $361,084;
  • Loss of expectation of life: $25,000;
  • Gratuitous attendant care services (including interest): $86,502.

While the plaintiff made a claim for past economic loss, the judge ruled that past benefits received from the Dust Diseases Authority (DDA) exceeded this amount.

Similarly, no award for out-of-pocket expenses was available because the DDA provided assistance for medical treatment after acknowledging the deceased was 100 per cent disabled due to his disease.

Would you like to learn more about the compensation available to sufferers of mesothelioma and other dust diseases? Please contact a member of the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.