Wife Wins Landmark Asbestos Ruling

An Australian woman who contracted cancer after washing her\r\nhusband's asbestos-contaminated clothing was awarded more than\r\n$374,000.

An Australian woman who contracted cancer after washing her husband''s asbestos-contaminated clothing was awarded more than $374,000 in a landmark compensation payment.

It was the first payment awarded to someone who contracted mesothelioma without having been exposed to asbestos directly through work.

Winnifred Brennan, 62, contracted mesothelioma after washing her husband''s clothing and visiting him and their sons on construction sites over an 18-year period from 1966 to 1984.

An Australian judge ordered James Hardie Ltd. to pay Brennan $374,166 compensation after she was diagnosed with cancer in what she described as "foreseeable and preventable" circumstances.

Judge James Curtis said Brennan was likely to die by the middle of next year. He said her case was particularly tragic as her husband died last year from cancer and five of her children had also been diagnosed with cancer.

James Hardie was the leading producer of asbestos-based products in Australia until the early 1980s.

The company has paid about $130 million in asbestos compensation and legal costs after receiving claims from 2,000 people since 1981.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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