After extensive discussions, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government has decided to grant a 53-year-old man diagnosed with mesothelioma $250,000 to cover his medical expenses. His illness is being blamed on the asbestos-contaminated insulation used in many houses in Canberra before the territory was established as a self-governing entity. The payment is being called an “act of grace” rather than acceptance of liability, but may be a signal that compensation for victims is being considered by both ACT and the Commonwealth.
Many Australian Mesothelioma Cases Blamed on Mr. Fluffy Insulation
The mesothelioma victim in this case is James Wallner, who blames his illness on the Mr. Fluffy loose-fill asbestos insulation that was used in his Canberra home. He recalls playing with the material with his brothers as if it were snow, as well as having the asbestos fibers rain down from seams in the ceiling throughout their home. He filed a claim against the government for compensation for both his medical expenses and his loss of income, and though the latter is still under discussion, he and his wife both expressed relief at the funds they are receiving.
Mr. Fluffy insulation has been blamed for countless cases of mesothelioma in Australia. The asbestos-contaminated material was pumped into Canberra homes over an 11-year period, with no records kept of where it was used. The Commonwealth attempted to survey the ACT’s 60,000 homes, but their survey was considered faulty and so were the cleanup efforts that followed. Now the ACT and the Commonwealth are enmeshed in a battle over responsibility for the ACT residents who have been affected. In 2014 the ACT considered purchasing all of the contaminated homes, but no compensation program has been designated for those diagnosed with the illness.
Assistance Fund for Mesothelioma Victims Under Consideration
While the decision to provide compensation to Mr. Wallner is being praised, it does not address the situation being faced by other mesothelioma victims. ACT Chief Minister Barr has directed the Asbestos Taskforce to “investigate the establishment” of a fund that would provide similar financial support to future victims, though at the same time he stresses that the ACT Government accepts no legal responsibility for the asbestos contamination, which occurred before the establishment of self-government. The Commonwealth also denies liability, though there is evidence that they had received ample warning about the health risks from asbestos exposure.
While the Australian government considers its own options for helping victims, United States mesothelioma victims are able to pursue civil legal action against the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. For more information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.