A former carpenter with terminal cancer sued asbestos manufacturer James Hardie in a landmark trial in Brisbane’s Supreme Court.
The 73-year-old plaintiff, Sydney Lacey, was exposed to asbestos while working for the company in Queensland in the 1970s and 1980s.
Lacey sued the company for pain and suffering, but he sought compensation mainly for his lost capacity to care for his sick wife, Marion.
Lacy sought $5.9 million in the lawsuit, which was settled out of court. The plaintiff’s lawyers said the settlement will help assist in the care of his wife, who has anxiety, epilepsy and is deaf.
“It’s a very tragic circumstance where Syd has been in his wife’s care for over 20 years and the main reason why he brought this case was to ensure she was looked after when he’s no longer with us,” Lacey’s lawyer said. “He’s incredibly grateful for the outcome and he’s very pleased to now have this behind him.”
Before the settlement had been reached, just one day after the trial began, Lacey’s lawyer said the case would set a precedent for mesothelioma damages in Queensland, Australia.
On the opening day of what was supposed to be a four-day trial, the court heard video evidence from the plaintiff’s home. Lacey, who is now undergoing a new medical trial to treat his mesothelioma, described the round-the-clock care he gives his wife.
His wife suffered a number of injuries during seizures, including cracked ankles, ribs and pelvis.
Mr. Lacey’s goal was to ensure that his wife is taken care of after his death. James Hardie, now known as Amaca Pty Ltd, conceded that it was liable for Lacey’s illness. The case was not centered on whether Hardie was responsible, but rather how much should be paid in damages and for the ongoing care of his wife after his death.