Widow’s court win halts company bid to slash asbestos payouts for migrants

John Talifero and his wife Marion Source: Daily Telegraph / Monique Harmer

The result could pave the way for more migrant workers to receive full compensation from the company.

The New South Wales Court of Appeal has rejected James Hardie's bid to pay migrant workers exposed to asbestos less than Australian-born workers.

The building company was involved in the manufacturing and distribution of products that contained asbestos until the late 1980s.

John Talifero, a migrant from England who worked with James Hardie fibro sheets for years, was diagnosed with mesothelioma - a cancer affecting the cells which cover most internal organs - four years ago.

He died of the illness on October 16th, 2017 at the age of 84.

James Hardie builing supplies site in western Sydney.
A James Hardie builing supplies site in western Sydney.

He filed a compensation claim against Amaca Pty Ltd, formerly James Hardie, before his death and was awarded $560,482 in damages. 

But Amaca claimed that under the terms of the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund, Mr Talifero was only entitled to 52 percent of that sum because he had been exposed to asbestos while working as a Royal Stoker in England before he migrated to Australia. 

Amaca, who have been facing similar cases with other migrant workers, referred the case to the Supreme Court to clarify the position. The Court agreed with them.

But John's widow Marion Talifero challenged the ruling at the Court of Appeals on Thursday and won.

The appeal judges ruled that as the claim only related to exposure of asbestos in Australia, the trust had to pay all of the damages. 

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