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For more than a decade, many clients suffering from asbestos-related lung cancer have faced a torrid time in pursuing compensation damages for their disease.

One of the main reasons was a decision by the High Court (Amaca v Ellis) in 2010 in which a plaintiff with lung cancer failed to mount sufficient medical evidence to prove that their asbestos exposure materially contributed to their disease in light of their parallel smoking history.

However, a new judgment handed down in the Northern Territory Supreme Court has set a new precedent and was found in favour of our client, opening the door for hundreds of Australians who may now have access to justice.

What’s the case?

Our client, the late Iraklis Roussos, lived and worked in Darwin all his life. His family’s construction business was responsible for much of the city's development and integral to rebuilding the community after Cyclone Tracy's devastation.

For more than 40 years, Iraklis was heavily exposed to products containing asbestos. And, like many workers at the time, he was a smoker. Later in life, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and started a claim against the manufacturers of the asbestos products he worked with for decades. Sadly, he passed away from his illness during the case, and the matter has been continuing on behalf of his estate.

“This is a very important landmark decision of the NTSC for all asbestos victims, but especially those who have asbestos-related lung cancer.

The Roussos family has seen vindication for the fight they bravely took to Amaca.  

Asbestos and smoke caused this man’s cancer and death.  Despite the defendant trying to blame our client for his smoking alone, the court agreed that it made a material contribution.

We expect this is not the last we hear of Iraklis’ case. “

Why does this case matter?

Since the Ellis decision, the Estate presented medical and scientific evidence that it is now possible to prove that in cases of lung cancer where the victim is also a smoker, the asbestos made a material contribution to the development of the cancer.

Their evidence showed not only that the asbestos exposure did make a material contribution to the lung cancer diagnosis, but also that people who smoke and have asbestos exposure are 25% more likely to develop lung cancer, compared with someone who was exposed to just once.

It effectively sets a new precedent for these kinds of cases and opens opportunities for others who have similarly suffered as a result of asbestos exposure.

What does it mean for Australian workers?

Three times as many people are diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer than mesothelioma in Australia, yet very few of these are brought as legal claims.

Many of the people suffering with these conditions have not brought legal claims, likely dissuaded by the High Court decision. This significant victory brings renewed hope for access to justice for Australians suffering with diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

We can help with disease exposure claims

Our experienced lawyers have a long history of fighting for the rights of people suffering from asbestos, silica and other dust related illnesses. If you've been diagnosed with a dust disease, you may have a claim for compensation. 

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.