Record damages awarded in NSW asbestos case recognises caring role of grandfather

6 March 2013

The NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal has today awarded record damages of $1.3m, recognising the caring responsibilities of a 68-year-old man with mesothelioma.

Acting President Judge Curtis found that under the Civil Liability Act 2002, Mr Mario Perez, a former bus depot labourer, should be entitled to damages in relation to his lost capacity to provide future domestic services to his grandchildren and wife.

Mr Perez has a particularly severe form of mesothelioma which has spread to his spine, and until his illness spent up to a total of three days a week caring for his family.

Mr Perez worked for the Urban Transit Authority at the Chullora Bus Depot from late 1970s until 1990. While employed, Mr Perez was exposed to asbestos from gaskets in the engines of buses, and from asbestos pipe insulation. Mr Perez was also exposed to asbestos when the antiquated asbestos roof was removed in 1987. The asbestos removalists stripped the roof, meanwhile below them, UTA employees continued working unprotected from falling asbestos dust.

Theodora Ahilas, principal in Maurice Blackburn asbestos law department said:

"The crux of the case related to the substantial amount of child care Mr Perez provided to his family during his retirement. We argued that this caring role should be taken into account when damages were awarded.

"We live in a world where grandparents are often very involved in caring for grandchildren and we are very pleased this has been recognised in this judgement. Mr Perez was also the sole carer of his wife, who has suffered from a debilitating cardiac condition since contracting rhematic fever as an adolescent.

"Mr Perez also cared for his son's infant twins on weekdays and his two granddaughters while their mother worked shift work. Understandably, Mr Perez will no longer be capable of providing these invaluable services to his family as his disease progresses, and his condition deteriorates," said Ms Ahilas.

A copy of the judgement is available on request.

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