Amaca Pty Ltd, formerly James Hardie, has been ordered to pay $30,000 in exemplary damages to a dying man, Mr Anython Latz, 70, who was exposed to asbestos in 1976 when building a fence at his home in Adelaide.
Why is this significant?
Exemplary damages are awarded to punish and deter, and only in circumstances where the Defendant's conduct amounts to conscious wrongdoing. These damages have not previously been awarded in an Australian asbestos case and potentially set a precedent for future cases against the former asbestos manufacturer who had knowledge of the dangers asbestos posed as early as 1938.
In Mr Latz's case, Justice Brian Gilchrist awarded the Plaintiff exemplary damages as James Hardie was well aware that consumers of their products were at some risk of dying at the time Mr Latz was exposed.
His Honour also allowed $25,000 for the Plaintiff to receive the new cancer treatment, Keytruda. This is significant as the benefits of the drug for mesothelioma patients remain controversial at this time. Defendants such as Amaca have been previously unwilling to fund the treatment, however, this decision provides Plaintiffs grounds to argue that funding the drug is reasonable.
If you or someone you know has concerns about exposure to asbestos, contact Adviceline Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9879.