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Landmark Victories

Turner Freeman Lawyers Landmark Victories

Vivien Margaret Olson v. CSR Ltd and Australian Blue Asbestos Pty Ltd

Vivien Olson was born at the Wittenoom Hospital in September of 1959. She lived in Wittenoom  for 27 months until the end of 1961 when her family moved to Sydney. As a baby in the Wittenoom township she was exposed to blue asbestos dust from tailings that were dumped around her parents’ home. In April 1994 Ms Olson contracted mesothelioma. In a ground  breaking judgment the New South Wales Court of Appeal upheld the decision of Judge O’Meally in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales and awarded Ms Olson’s estate damages of $613,095.

Norman Wren v. CSR Limited & Anor

Mr Wren was exposed to asbestos while working for about a year in 1950 for Asbestos Products  Pty Limited, a subsidiary of CSR Limited that made asbestos cement fibro sheets.

Asbestos Products Pty Ltd was deregistered in 1960 and could therefore not be sued. It’s Workers Compensation insurance policy was limited to £6000. Turner Freeman sued CSR Limited alleging that it directly controlled Asbestos Products Pty Ltd and therefore was responsible for its negligent acts and omissions – CSR ran the matter as a test case and put all matters in issue including whether CSR should have known of the dangers of exposure to asbestos in 1950. CSR relied on the notion of the corporate veil arguing Asbestos Products Pty Ltd was a separate entity and that it could not be liable for its acts or omissions. In a ground breaking decision the Court accepted Mr Wren’s arguments and CSR liable. CSR appealed to the New South Wales Court of Appeal. The appeal was unanimously dismissed and the Tribunal’s verdict upheld. The case is very significant and is now taught in Commercial Law classes at universities.


Helene Edwards v. James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited

Helene Edwards was a 57 year old resident of South Australia with mesothelioma. Her only exposure to asbestos was in 1977 for a period of two weeks whilst assisting her father to renovate the bathroom. Mrs Edwards held the fibro sheets her father cut and drilled. She also cut some of the sheets herself. Proceedings were brought against James Hardie & Coy Pty Ltd, the manufacturer of the building products used by Mrs Edwards and her father. Mrs Edwards was successful in her proceedings. In a landmark judgment the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales awarded damages of $803,403. This is the first judgment for a person with mesothelioma contracted as a result of home renovations.


Albert Charles Dyson v. Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd

Albert Dyson was employed by Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd as a storeman. He was required to carry out cleaning work using compressed air to blow down pigeon droppings from the rafters in the store at the factory. Mr Dyson was not provided with proper protective equipment while he was carrying out the work. As a consequence of inhaling dust in the bird droppings he contracted the disease cryptococcosis. He successfully sued his employer Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales and was awarded damages of $533,418.


Bill Roberts v. Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Ltd)

Mr Roberts was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 63. He was working as a dentist. He alleged he was exposed to asbestos during the course of home renovations in the 1960s when Bill helped his brother to erect a wall and line the ceiling of a car parking area using fibro sheets.

A few years later he again helped his brother to construct a children’s playroom area again using fibro sheets. These were his only exposures to asbestos. Bill sued Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited), the manufacturer and supplier of the fibro sheets. Although admitting liability James Hardie fought Bill’s claim on damages. The matter proceeded to trial and Bill was awarded a verdict of $1,955,456.84 plus costs, one of the highest awards made by a judge for mesothelioma in Australia.


David Sim v. Allianz Australia Limited

Mr Sim suffered from asbestosis. He subsequently contracted lung cancer and died on 6 July  2009. Mr Sim commenced proceedings in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales in his lifetime which were continued by his Estate. Mr Sim sued his former employers. He had worked as a lagger for various companies installing asbestos insulation between 1964 and 1979. The defendants argued that because Mr Sim could not identify which employment caused his lung cancer he could not succeed in his claim. The Court rejected this argument and accepted the evidence called on behalf of Mr Sim that each employment had made a material contribution to Mr Sim’s lung cancer. Mr Sim’s Estate was awarded $317,561.85. The defendants appealed the decision to the New South Wales Court of Appeal who unanimously dismissed the appeal and upheld the verdict.


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