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Asbestos lawyer providing Q & A discussing asbestosis and mesothelioma

Ann-Maree Pascoli providing Q & A on the 2GB Steve Price Afternoon Show discussing asbestosis and mesothelioma - 17 September 2019

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 

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SP – Steve Price / Ann-Maree Pascoli –   C1,2,3, etc – Callers 

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SP       A very special and personal edition of the Turner Freeman great sponsors Turner Freeman session today. Ann-Maree Pascoli, a partner at Turner Freeman joins me on the line. Great to speak to you again.

AP      Likewise Steve.

SP       We should let the audience know 131873 is our number, $100 Westfield voucher to our best caller today. We are actually talking about asbestos and I was mentioning to you Ann-Maree before we came on that my brother in law, lovely man, passed away a couple of years ago from mesothelioma which I didn’t know much about until obviously it struck in the family and he had been working, his dad was a carpenter and he worked as a chippy with his dad back in the 60s in Perth and a lot of the time they were pulling down old houses and renovating and many of those houses were obviously clad in asbestos.

AP      Yes. It’s unfortunately something that we see quite commonly.

SP       So how hard is a litigation case to do with asbestos? I mean his family were represented legally and they did get compensation in the end but it wasn’t easy, it was quite an argument, you had to prove why you had contracted mesothelioma and that’s not always easy to do.

AP      No it’s not, and it’s not only, it’s difficult to prove how, it’s also difficult to prove when and sometimes the when questions make the legal claim difficult as well. These things given the nature of the disease and the fact that you can be exposed 40 years before you contract the disease and you know you are talking about things that happened 50-60 years ago, that can make it really difficult. How easy the claim is to run will depend on lots of things, so we kind of have to approach each case on a case by case basis.

SP       In a historical case, how much detail do those that are in court against you on the compensation argument, how much detail do they require? What sort of proof do you need to show them?

AP      Well look in most cases the Plaintiff’s memory will be enough and should I explain for those who might not be up with the legal jargon, a Plaintiff is the person bringing the claim so in this case the person with the mesothelioma. Generally as long as that person can point to an instance where they have had known exposure to asbestos, that will be enough but we certainly need to be able to prove as much as we can where that happened, when that happened, how it happened and that’s what can be a little bit difficult sometimes.

SP       Give us a call on 131873 if you have been through one of these cases or you are in fact thinking about launching one of these cases because you have been struck down with this dreadful disease. Give us a call. $100 Westfield voucher to the best caller today. 131873. If you have worked with asbestos in the past you might have been a builder, you have been a chippie yourself, you might have been married to someone who is working in the building game who has been taken by this. Tell us about the case of James Maloney’s father Brian, this is really interesting.

AP      It is.  Brian was a carpenter for a long time, all through his life, he contracted mesothelioma in the mid, well I think it was 2007 he contracted mesothelioma and we ran his case in the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal when James Maloney was still relatively young and that was a difficult claim and we had quite a fight on our hands in that case but we got it over the line and managed to secure some financial compensation for ultimately Brian’s wife.

SP       So you can actually if you are working with this awful material during the day and you have dust covered in your clothing, I remember when this was a massive news story probably back in the 2000s involving James Hardie. There were stories about women who are working with people working with asbestos, mines in fact, could actually contract it themselves just through breathing the dust off the clothing.

AP      Yes that’s right so we see, given that asbestos was taken out of these products in the mid 80s, the claims for people who are actually working with the asbestos products are diminishing and what we are seeing a lot more of are claims like that so women who have been washing the work clothes of their husbands, children who were giving dad a hug at the end of the day after he comes home from work and things like that. We are seeing a lot more of which is actually really frightening.

SP       And those cases might even be more difficult to run whereas once removed.

AP      Absolutely. They can be, you know especially if dad is not around anymore to provide some evidence about the work he was doing and coming in contact with the products himself, that certainly adds a layer of complexity to the legal claim.

SP       Phil is in Winston Hills, how are you Phil?

C1       I’m really good thanks. I just like to bring up a couple of things about the asbestosis and what the Navy used to use for their steam insulation around their pipes, it used to be asbestos and I have lost many of friends to that disease. I don’t have it but I know for a fact that the Navy has a register now for people that were exposed to that product.

SP       I can still see that in my mind’s eye on a couple of times I have toured Naval ships, Phil never worked on them obviously but you can see that wrapping around the joints of piping.

C1       Yes absolutely. I still remember as a young lad when I joined HMAS Sydney which was the ferry, and we had a steam pipe problem and the chief engineer said just rip that apart so we were up there with sledgehammers and hammers and there was dust going everywhere. I mean I have been fortunate that I have not got any symptoms and I’m not a smoker so I’m fairly lucky in that regard but yeah I have always said to my wife, if I die from that disease make sure the Navy are made aware of it.

SP       No lung issues at all?

C1       No lung no. I have never been a smoker in my life.

SP       That has probably helped you a lot. Good on you, nice to talk to you Phil, just hang on there for me. That’s Phil in Winston Hill. More calls in a moment. We are talking to Turner Freeman’s Ann-Maree Pascoli, partner. We are talking asbestosis and mesothelioma this afternoon. Leslie thank you for hanging on in Woodford. You there Leslie?

C2       Yes I am.

SP       Go ahead.

C2       Hi, my brother died at the age of 42 with asbestos about 15 years ago and I have had recent tests and now I have been told that I have been, my body is showing that I have been in contact with asbestos itself.

AP      Oh wow.  Do you know where you were exposed to asbestos Leslie?

C2       The only way that I can think of was that my brother was a builder, I suppose just being in the environment that we were living in and washing clothes as you were saying before and all that sort of thing.

SP       What would your advice be Ann-Maree in that case?

AP      Look Leslie if you are happy to, you could give me a call, what we tend to do with people like you who know that they have been exposed to asbestos, given the risk of contracting the disease later we keep details on file, we can take statements from you, things like that and just keep the file in abeyance in case anything happens. Hopefully it doesn’t but if it does you are kind of protected that way.

SP       Hang on Leslie we will ask if you are happy to be put in touch and we can get your details and pass them onto Ann-Maree. Margaret is in Sydney, hi Margaret.

C3       Hello there Steve.  I just have found the Dust Disease Board to be absolutely fantastic. My husband died 23 years ago and a builder….sawing up hardie plank with a power saw and they died about the same time the pair of them.  It took 20 years for them but the Dust Disease Board have been magnificent financially.

SP       What’s your experience been with them Ann-Maree?

AP      Oh look they are fabulous, and the great thing about them is like Margaret says, they have extensive entitlements for dependents following the death of somebody who has died from a dust disease so they are a wonderful organisation, they cover medical costs for people who have been exposed and have a claim available and like I said for the dependents as well.

SP       My sister Margaret also got properly compensated and they looked after her very well as well. Nothing can compensate what’s happened to you but at least you haven’t had to go through any agro with them.

C3       It’s made an enormous difference to my life.

AP      That’s good.

C3       To be taken care of.

SP       Very nice to hear from you Margaret. Thank you for that and sorry about your loss. Russ is in Mango Hill. G’day Russ.

C4       Hello Steve and Ann-Maree. Just thought I would relay an incident to a very dear friend of ours. She succumbed to this disease quite innocently by giving her husband’s overalls a good shake before she would put them in the washing machine and that was clearly defined that this is how she succumbed to it and I can only warn so many wives and people who do washing or husband’s that work with this stuff to give it a hose outside, don’t bring it into the laundry and shake it because you are going to cop the dust and it was just put across that her disease was just caused by bad luck.

SP       That is a sad story Russ, thank you for that. Martin’s in Brisbane, hello Martin.

C5       G’day mate how are you going?

SP       Good thank you Martin.

C5       I just wanted to say as an apprentice electrician 40 years ago we used to laugh how white our faces would look like snowman and that was from cutting asbestos.  Now so we are talking 40 something years down the track. Should I be worried?

AP      Look Martin, you should always I think have regular chest checkups and certainly if you start getting symptoms of breathlessness or chest pain I would get to your doctor straight away but look the nature of this disease is you don’t really know who is going to get it and whose not.  People who have been exposed to a lot of asbestos never contract the disease and other people who have very minor exposure get mesothelioma.  My advice would be to be vigilant but try and get on with your life and don’t let it consume you.

SP       Martin have you had any side effects at all.

C5       Well I’m a smoker, I’ve smoked for 47 years, I do notice when I gave up there for a little bit my breathing got better but yes I’m always short of breath without doing too much at all unless I get the right puffer into me.

SP       Ann-Maree does smoking complicate a case?

AP      It absolutely does but only if it is a case arising from lung cancer so if you have mesothelioma there is no contribution to your mesothelioma from smoking at all but certainly if you have had some heavy exposure to asbestos and you’re a smoker, your risk of contracting lung cancer is much higher so in that case it can definitely complicate a claim.

SP       And there is two types of asbestos, blue and white?

AP      There is blue white and brown. So three types.

SP       Are they all as bad as each other or is one worse than the other?

AP      One is much worse, blue is much more potent than the white and the brown.

SP       Might be good luck you were playing with the white stuff Martin.

C5       That’s what it sounds like because we looked like snowman.

SP       Keep your eye on it and keep yourself at the doctor and do me a favour and give up the cigarettes. That might be a handy thing to do if you can. Thank you Martin good on you. Warren is on line and also in Queensland, hey Warren.

C6       G’day Steve how are you going?

SP       Well thank you.

C6       My question is to Ann-Maree, my father passed away 6 years ago from asbestosis, he was in his mid 70s. He was a painter by trade and I didn’t know at the time but mum and dad were pursuing compensation which mum received after dad’s passing. I have kept all the paperwork.  Mum has since passed away as well. Now as kids we used to go to work with dad and we would do various jobs including sweeping out the buildings, so my question is, is there a chance for a second generation claimant if I contract asbestosis?

AP      There is.  Your claim would be a little bit more complicated and again hopefully that never comes to pass but yes certainly people like you who have been exposed from the work done by dad definitely can make a claim.

C6       Ok.

SP       I hope it doesn’t happen Warren but make sure you keep all that paperwork, that’s very smart and clever.

C6       Fingers crossed.

SP       Fingers crossed for you. Thanks for the call. Judy is on line in Kingston. Hello Judy.

C7       Hi how are you?

SP       Ok.

C7       I just want to put across we all owe a big debt of gratitude to Bernie Banton for taking it up to the government and James Hardie regarding this destructive product and I just want to say if it wasn’t for Bernie Banton none of all of these people would have been claiming and in saying that my husband had asbestosis and he would have just died not knowing what it was all about and thanks to Bernie Banton and all the people who rallied around him and brought this to the forefront.

SP       We will remember him standing outside Court don’t we Judy and Ann-Maree with the tubes out of his mouth and he was a tough character.

AP      He was.

C7       We are owe a lot to that guy and the family and the misery it is causing people but if it wasn’t for him but we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We would have been dusted under the carpet.

SP       Well said Judy thank you, I do remember Bernie Banton very well and the number of times that he was out in the public. Peter is on the line, hello Peter.

C8       Hi there. I managed a building in Sydney and we have this goose of a builder who is renovating one of the units and we have got solid core asbestos doors, it is an older style unit and I found he has just taken the door off and cut about an inch and a half off the bottom of it, he did that inside the unit but then he has reinstated it. I was speaking to someone about that from a fire point of view because he has compromised the fire safety of the door but the person said asbestos door you need some sort of, it’s blue asbestos it’s the worst, it is inside the renovated unit door that is being renovated. This guy is a complete fool, we are just wondering what we should do?

AP      Have you notified WorkCover?

C8       Not yet because I am going through the strata, I’ve collected all the CCTV, we have cameras everywhere in the building and so I’ve collected all of the evidence and taken it to him and he said that well firstly we should approach the owner who is ultimately responsible and it’s a bit of common property and they weren’t meant to interfere with it, no one has ever done this in my 15 years managing the building and I just want to get some legal advice, I don’t know from our strata solicitors about our next move but it is obviously something that has to be done pretty quickly.

SP       Is that what you would advise then Ann-Maree?

AP      I would advise getting WorkCover involved. Keep all of the CCTV footage and the evidence you have Peter and I would get WorkCover involved and they will do their own investigation and prosecute if necessary.

SP       Good advice. Shaun is in Strathpine, hi Shaun.

C9       Hello.

SP       Go ahead Shaun.

C9       A few years ago I was a labourer for a carpenter and we will working on a house that asbestos in it. I am 22 now and I’m just trying to figure out what I potentially do so I give myself for the future maybe.

SP       What do you reckon Ann-Maree?

AP      I missed that last part there Shaun?

C9       What I should maybe do to keep myself good for the future like any legal things I need to do?

SP       What should Shaun note down or what evidence should he gather?

AP      I would maybe again possibly get in touch with us if that is something you want to do but I would certainly prepare a statement of how you were exposed and when and in what circumstances. If you have got evidence of your actual employer that this happened with that would be good as well, that is one of the things we come up against and just you know again be vigilant about potential symptoms and getting in touch with your doctor if you ever suffer from breathlessness or a cough or chest pain or something like that.

SP       Good on you Shaun, thank you for that. Thank you Ann-Maree. Obviously given the number of calls we have had today it is a wide spread issue.  We have a couple there that we will take a note of and call back next time we get you in to talk to them about this. Thank you very much and we will talk to someone from Turner Freeman next week.

AP      Thanks Steve.

SP       Ann-Maree Pascoli there, partner at Turner Freeman.