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Case study – exposure from home renovations

Turner Freeman has acted for numerous men and women who were exposed to asbestos while carrying out or assisting with home renovations and who later contracted mesothelioma. Most home renovators have only very limited exposure to asbestos dust and fibre.

In the period between the 1950′s and the early 1980′s, almost every home built in Western Australia contained asbestos. Asbestos cement fibro sheets were commonly used as eaves, exterior walls, lining on walls and ceilings of kitchens, bathrooms and laundries and for garages, fences and carports.

Home renovators used asbestos fibro sheets to build extensions, porches, verandahs and sheds. As well as installing new fibro sheets, home renovators often removed, repaired and replaced existing fibro sheets and breathed in asbestos dust as a result.

Helene Edwards

Helene Edwards assisted her father to renovate the guest bathroom on her property in Penola in 1977, and a few years later again assisted her father to reline the back verandah. Both jobs involved fibro sheets. Helene helped her father to unload and carry the sheets, held the fibro sheets while her father cut them to size, cut holes in the sheets for pipe work and drilled and nailed the sheets in place.

Thirty years later Helene contracted mesothelioma. She sued James Hardie, the manufacturer of the fibro sheets. Helene was successful in her claim, the Court awarding her damages in the sum of $803,403.02 plus costs. Helene’s verdict was the first verdict for a home renovator who contracted mesothelioma.

Mr. M

Mr. M laid tiles over floorboards in the entrance hallway to his family home in about 1973. He spoke to a salesman at the local hardware store who suggested that he lay asbestos cement sheets between the floorboards and the tiles.

He cut the sheets by scoring and snapping the sheets. He discovered that the edge of the hallway was not straight and that the sheet was the correct size at one end but about an inch too wide at the other end. He used a rasp to rasp the sheets to the correct size. Cutting and rasping the sheets took about a day to complete.

This was his only exposure to asbestos. Thirty years later Mr. M developed mesothelioma. Turner Freeman was able to determine the manufacturer of the fibro sheets used by Mr. M and commenced proceedings against the manufacturer. Mr. M’s matter settled before trial for a confidential sum.

Turner Freeman have also successfully acted for women and children exposed to asbestos from being present during, and cleaning up after, home renovation work.

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