$1m for asbestos victim

Andrea Petrie
August 31, 2011

Eric King has been awarded $1.15 million compensation after being exposed to asbestos at a James Hardie factory.

Photo: Bloomberg

A MESOTHELIOMA sufferer has been awarded $1.15 million compensation after being exposed to asbestos at a James Hardie factory almost 40 years ago.

Eric King, 62, visited a James Hardie factory at Welshpool, near Perth, three times for several hours in 1972 to carry out maintenance on a machine at the asbestos cement sheeting factory.

At no stage was Mr King warned about the dangers of asbestos or given a mask to protect himself.

Yesterday, a Supreme Court jury of four women and two men found that James Hardie had failed to take reasonable care to avoid Mr King's exposure to asbestos, determining that that had caused his mesothelioma.

Following the verdict, Maurice Blackburn lawyer Andrew Dimsey described the outcome as important, considering it was the first mesothelioma case to go to verdict in Victoria in more than 10 years.

''James Hardie applied to the Supreme Court on two occasions to have the jury dismissed and have the case decided by the judge alone,'' said Mr Dimsey, who is Maurice Blackburn's asbestos diseases principal.

''After the jury returned its verdict, James Hardie applied again to have the judge dismiss the jury's verdict and replace it with a finding in favour of James Hardie. Their application was refused.

''This result is a relief and is vindication for Mr King who has always felt that his exposure at the James Hardie factory was the cause of his condition.''

Mr King was not in court for the verdict and declined to comment.