Cement Siding Company Pays $2 Million in Asbestos Compensation

According to a news report from the Australian this week, major cement siding company James Hardie will be forced to pay $2 million in compensation for reckless disposal of asbestos at the site of a children's miniature railway and orphanage in the 1970’s. The West Australian Supreme Court ordered the cement siding company to surrender $2.068 million in compensation to a 42-year-old man, Simon Lowes, who contracted mesothelioma “after playing as a child with asbestos dumped by the company.” Even though the improperly-disposed of materials added up to only a small amounts of asbestos, representatives of James Hardie were reported to have known the dangers, especially as a company in the cement siding industry. The news source explains Lowes started to develop symptoms of mesothelioma in 2006, being diagnosed with the cancer two years later, in 2008. Mesothelioma is known for its extremely long latency period, often taking decades to develop after initial exposure to asbestos. According to the news source, Lowes had been a child in the early 1970’s when he was exposed to asbestos. With the grounds of the orphanage extending near the railway, asbestos shouldn’t have been dumped anywhere near where the children would commonly play. A two week trial for James Hardie began in April of this year, the Australian reports.  At the proceedings, it was revealed that a safety officer from James Hardie warned of the dangers of dumping asbestos at the site of the orphanage. However, the news source alleges these warnings were ignored and the materials were disposed of there anyway, putting many children at risk for dangerous asbestos exposure. The Australian reports that the Judge of the West Australian Supreme Court handed down a 350-page report this week. Within the report, he claimed that it was totally conceivable that children could be exposed to asbestos because of the negligence of James Hardie representatives, indicating the company’s guilt in the matter. Lowes reportedly expressed great surprise when Hardie did not pay damages to him for his disease two years ago from the compensation fund they had set up, the news source reports. Lowes said it had been “a long struggle” to win this compensation and he expressed hope that Hardie did not appeal this decision. According to the news source, Lowes explains “It has always been about making sure my two daughters are looked after.” Reference:
  • Guest, Debbie. (October 26, 2011) “Hardie to pay $2m over orphanage asbestos.” Retrieved on October 27, 2011 from the Australian.
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