Battle won: While his battle with asbestos cancer continues, Pottsville resident John Booth takes pride in his win against manufacturing giant James Hardie.
Battle won: While his battle with asbestos cancer continues, Pottsville resident John Booth takes pride in his win against manufacturing giant James Hardie. John Gass

Cancer patient wins asbestos case

POTTSVILLE resident John Booth’s successful payout after contracting mesothelioma is expected to pave the way for similar cases from other sufferers of illness related to asbestos exposure.

After an appeal from brake manufacturer James Hardie was rejected unanimously by the NSW Court of Appeal, Mr Booth received $326,640, confirming for the first time exposure to white asbestos can cause incurable cancer.

Mr Booth’s lawyer Gerard Mc Mahon, of Turner Freeman Lawyers, said he expected more successful claims due to 73-year-old Mr Booth’s win.

“I have another couple of cases similar to John’s, and because of his win we are able to move forward with these cases,” he said.

McMahon likened asbestos exposure to “Russian roulette with a million chances”.

“While a large number of people worked for James Hardie in the same 30-year period as Mr Booth, only a small handful will actually be affected with terminal cancer.”

Mr Booth, a widower, says that while his health was suffering he was glad that he had been able to set a precedent for others in his position.

“I knew it would be quite a fight, and a risk to go ahead with the case, but I was confident in my legal team’s abilities and I feel good that I have been able to set a precedent for following cases,” he said.

Mr Booth was disappointed in James Hardie’s inability to own up to their responsibilities, despite their loss in his case.

“How many more times can you lose before you admit you’ve lost?”

“Hardies are not playing the game and are trying to do anything they can to dodge the blame.”

McMahon agreed that James Hardie needed to admit fault at not warning workers of the risks associated with white asbestos.

“People that use white asbestos, like Hardie, say that it doesn’t cause cancer – this is wrong.”


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