Get to know Annie
Primarily based in our Adelaide office, Annie also sees clients in other Turner Freeman offices both within SA and interstate, in hospitals, and at their home.
Annie joined Turner Freeman in November 2003 as a law clerk. She was admitted to practice in 2007 and became a partner in 2013. Annie specialises and practices in the area of asbestos litigation.
She was named as one of the leading Dust Diseases Compensation Lawyer in South Australia for 9 years in a row.
- Named as one of the leading Dust Diseases Compensation Lawyer in South Australia for 9 years in a row.
- Annie specialises and practices in the area of asbestos litigation and acts for clients suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis, asbestos related pleural diseases and asbestos related lung cancers.
- Annie also acts for clients with other dust diseases, such as silicosis.
Annie joined Turner Freeman in November 2003 as a law clerk. She was admitted to practice in 2007 and became a partner in 2013. Annie is the managing partner of the Turner Freeman Adelaide and Perth offices.
Annie has run more successful dust diseases cases to trial in South Australia than any other lawyer.
Annie’s vast asbestos litigation experience
- She has played a leading role in developing the law in this area to the benefit of asbestos victims.
- In Abel v. Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited), Annie obtained the first verdict against James Hardie in a product liability claim in South Australia. The matter of Abel was also the first fully contested matter to run under the Dust Diseases Act 2005 (SA).
- Annie has obtained a number of successful judgments against BHP Billiton Limited for former workers of the Whyalla Shipyards. The first was the matter of Parker v. BHP Billiton Limited. The judgment handed down the first award of exemplary damages under the Dust Diseases Act 2005 (SA). Annie further successfully defended an appeal brought by BHP against the judgment and the award of exemplary damages.
- “The matter of Parker v BHP was certainly a milestone in my career and a case that I am particularly proud of. Obtaining the first award of exemplary damages under the Dust Diseases Act was significant and has paved the way for future claims.”
First successful mesothelioma claim in South Australia
- Annie also ran the first successful mesothelioma claim in South Australia against the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA). In the matter of Geyer v. Resi Corporation, Annie was successful in not only obtaining damages for Mr Geyer in relation to his condition of mesothelioma, but also the first payment for exemplary damages by ETSA in an asbestos case.
Test case on loss of pension benefits
- Annie ran the test case of Latz v. Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited)
- Mr Latz’s case went all the way to the High Court of Australia on the issue of whether Mr Latz was entitled to claim for the loss of pension payments that he was receiving at the time of his diagnosis of mesothelioma in the “lost years”. Mr Latz made a claim for these pension entitlements on the basis that because his exposure to asbestos had caused mesothelioma, and a reduction in his life expectancy, he had lost the ability to claim his pension payments until his otherwise predicted life expectancy. Although the High Court ultimately found that Mr Latz could not claim for his loss of the Age Pension, he was entitled to claim for the loss of a state superannuation pension he was receiving.
- Mr Latz’s was the first case of its kind to reach the High Court and will have an impact on all future mesothelioma cases. Mr Latz was also awarded exemplary damages against James Hardie, and represented the first time that the company had been ordered to pay such damages to a sufferer of asbestos disease in Australia.
Securing compensation for the “Third Wave” of home renovators
- Annie ran the “test case” of Werfel v. Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited) which dealt with the liability of James Hardie to those who are exposed to asbestos dust from undertaking home renovations involving in situ or pre-existing asbestos cement building materials. The case was defended vigorously all the way to the High Court of Australia. Annie was successful in establishing James Hardie’s continuing duty to warn those at risk of contracting asbestos related disease from exposure to asbestos due to products that have already been installed in homes and other buildings around Australia.
- Annie’s client, Mat Werfel, had been exposed to asbestos from sanding and cutting asbestos sheets in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mr Werfel cut corrugated “Deep Six” asbestos sheets used for fencing when he worked as a fencing contractor in the 1990s. He also sanded and cut asbestos sheets used for eaves and external cladding on homes he was renovating in the early 2000s. At the time, Mr Werfel did not know that asbestos was present in the materials he was working with.
- Annie argued that James Hardie had a duty to warn people like Mr Werfel who might undertake building or renovation work and come to disturb their existing asbestos cement building products by way of a public awareness and PR campaign. The Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia accepted that James Hardie had such a duty, and had breached that duty in failing to warn people life Mr Werfel. The Court found that:
- “…James Hardie was aware of the growing amount of scientific literature on the risks of working with asbestos-cement products and was concerned about its dissemination into the public domain. Its strategy was to acknowledge but minimise that risk through the public statements of its managing director and by labels in promotional material.”
- “Express warnings of the risk of contracting mesothelioma by Australia’s predominant manufacturer of asbestos-cement sheeting would have galvanised the attention of a large part of the Australian population, and tradespersons and home handypersons… It is a message which is likely to have quickly become embedded in the consciousness of those persons who would work in places with asbestos-cement products.”
- Mr Werfel was awarded $2,228,478 in damages against James Hardie. It represents the largest award of compensation for a person suffering from asbestos related disease in South Australia.
Annie has acted for hundreds of South Australians suffering from asbestos disease.
She has obtained compensation for sufferers of mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease. Her clients come from all walks of life including former employees of James Hardie, Bradford Insulation, Bells Asbestos, BHP, ETSA, the SA Housing Trust, Commonwealth Railways and SA Railways. Annie has obtained compensation for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, builders, home renovators and wives washing dusty clothes.
- “It is an extremely satisfying job providing peace of mind to sufferers of asbestos disease and their families. I could not imagine using my knowledge and skills for a better purpose.”
Ranked by Doyles Guide as a leading Dust Diseases Compensation Lawyer in South Australia for 9 years in a row.
Qualifications & Memberships
- B. International Studies; LLB (with Honours) – University of Adelaide
- Inaugural member of the SA Dust Diseases Rules Committee
- The Law Society of South Australia
- Australian Lawyers Alliance
- Asbestos Victims Association of South Australia
“Thank you for being our strength through what was arguably one of the toughest periods of our life. From the moment we first met I knew that we were in good hands and indeed that was backed up by your professionalism, knowledge and empathy for my dad who was dealing with his diagnosis of Mesothelioma. Thank you for being our warrior, for bringing justice to the table and making those responsible accountable. Thank you for encouraging me to hold firm at the gritty end to achieve a better settlement for mum. I know dad’s case will go on to help others and make it easier for the next person going through this journey and that brings solace too. Keep fighting the good fight because you do it so very well!”
On behalf of our whole family I would like to thank you for all the work you have done with getting the financial outcome for our late mother and sister respectively. Your professional approach to the task, experience and diligence has made this unexpected event a lot easier for us all to face.
“We write to you to express our sincerest gratitude towards the excellent legal work you and Turner Freeman Lawyers had delivered on our behalf. Where other firms had declined to act on the matter, you had the legal vision to take on the challenge and succeed. We have therefore gained the rightful and justifiable compensation for the illness contracted during my employment. Without your diligent professionalism, clarity in communication and outstanding delivery, the outcome would have been somewhat different. Therefore we wish to express our sincerest gratitude to you personally and to all those in Turner Freeman Lawyers who worked on the matter with you. We say thank you very much for a job well done.”
– J.P. & C.P.
Annie, I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and guidance. A truly remarkable result has renewed my faith in justice!
M.W. & J.W. – Pooraka
“Trevor and I would like to thank you for all your hard work and professionalism over the past year or so. You have done a great job securing an excellent outcome.”
Dean & Trevor
“Thank you for your professionalism, advice & knowledge throughout the claim Dad had regarding the work he did when he was younger.”
We would like to thank you for your help and professionalism and more importantly to us your guidance and friendship you showed us during our recent dust claim case. We did not expect the end result to be so high but it pleases me to know Marg will not be struggling later on. Once again, thanks very much for your help and we wish you and your family all the best for the future years.
Dear Annie and staff, Please accept our sincere thanks and appreciation for your dedication in achieving a successful outcome of our case. We will always remember and be grateful in your complete understanding, kindness and reassurance, guiding us through this very unexpected and tragic time in our lives. Also on behalf on our late husband and father who would have been proud and grateful for everything you have done for us.
G, O and S Underwood
Annie, thank you to you and the team for helping me. I wish you all success with your future clients with this dreadful disease. You were so thoughtful when I was struggling and I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you again, you are good people!