Tanya Segelov has been at the forefront of mesothelioma and asbestos disease litigation in Australia since the 1990’s.

Prior to establishing Segelov Taylor Lawyers in 2016, she was a partner at another firm where she ran hundreds of claims.  Her significant achievements included:

    • the late asbestos campaigner, Bernie Banton in both his claims for compensation against his former employer James Hardie,
    • the first person to obtain a verdict from James Hardie for a woman who contracted mesothelioma from home renovations,
    • the first verdict under the Dust Diseases Act (2005) SA,
    • the first verdict in Australia for a flight attendant exposed to fumes,
    • the first verdict to hold a holding company responsible for the negligent acts of its subsidiary company

    Tanya also acted for a coalition of unions and asbestos support groups in the James Hardie Inquiry.

    Since establishing Segelov Taylor in 2016 Tanya has continued to be at the forefront of  the law for asbestos disease victims.  Some of the decisions from more recent  ground-breaking asbestos disease cases she has acted in are described below:

Ronald Phillips

Mr Phillips was 84 years of age when he contracted mesothelioma because of exposure to James Hardie asbestos cement building products while helping a friend carrying out building work in the late 1970s. Despite his age, Mr Phillips was incredibly fit. He exercised each day including walking and dancing for several hours a night several times a week.

Mr Phillips condition deteriorated rapidly following his diagnosis. Prior to his diagnosis he lived alone in a third-floor apartment without a lift. Following his diagnosis, Mr Phillips could no longer care for himself or climb the stairs to his unit.

Mr Phillips brought proceedings against Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited) in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW. As part of his claim Mr Phillips sought the cost of his future care. James Hardie argued that the company should only be required to pay for the lower cost option of Mr Phillips being cared for in a nursing home. We argued that Mr Phillips should have the choice to spend his final months living in his community with James Hardie compensating him for the cost of care by his family and professional nurses.

The Court accepted our argument and Mr Phillips was awarded the sum of $664,393.03 plus costs which included over$285,000.00 for past and future care.

In a significant Judgment that will help all victims of asbestos disease, the court accepted Mr Phillips’ argument finding that:

He deserves to be comfortable and to the extent he might find some comfort looking out from the balcony to see his beloved beach and boardwalk, it is reasonable that be provided to him.

The decision opens the door for other suffers of asbestos disease to choose care at home.

Charles Abegglen

The late Mr Abegglen suffered from mesothelioma.  Shortly before his death, Mr. Abegglen brought proceedings in the Dust  Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales suing his former employer, Granosite Pty Limited (now ACN 000 246 542 Pty Limited) and Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited), the manufacturer of the asbestos cement sheets he worked with. After his death, the proceedings were continued by the late Mr Abegglen’s Estate.

Prior to symptoms from his mesothelioma, Mr Abegglen provided care to his wife, Mrs. Piatti, who suffers from dementia.  As part of his claim in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW, Mr Abegglen claimed damages for his loss of ability to provide services to his wife in the past and future because of his diagnosis of mesothelioma.

At the trial, Judge Russell of the Dust Diseases Tribunal found in favour of Mr Abegglen and awarded damages in the sum of $1,058,000.00.  Judge Russell found that at the time Mr Abegglen first experienced symptoms in 2016, he was providing 16 hours per day care to his wife.  Judge Russell also found that in January 2018, Mrs. Piatti’s condition deteriorated, and she required 24-hour care and supervision from that time and for the rest of her life.

Judge Russell only awarded damages on the basis of 16 hours of care a day as he held that previous decisions did not allow him to increase the level of care despite finding that Mrs Piatti required increased care and that Mr Abegglen, but for his condition of mesothelioma, would have provided that care.

Mr. Abegglen’s Estate appealed this part of Judge Russell’s decision to the NSW Court of Appeal and was successful.  The NSW Court of Appeal found that there was no such constraint and increased the damages awarded to the Estate of the late Mr Abegglen by the sum of $305,860.00 making the total judgment $1,363,860.00.

This decision is important for all asbestos claimants. It is not unusual for a claimant to be carer, usually for their spouse and in some cases, their children. In many cases the claimant’s spouse is suffering from a progressive condition such as dementia and the claimant, but for their condition of mesothelioma, would have continued to look after their spouse at increasing levels as their spouse’s condition deteriorated.  This decision allows the claimant and their dependent to be fully compensated for the claimant’s inability to provide such care in the past and in the future.

John Francis Talifero

John Francis Talifero was born in England. He had some exposure to asbestos in England while serving in the British Navy and while working before he came to Australia in 1971. From 1971 to 1995 he worked as a painter and during this period had exposure to asbestos whilst sanding, cutting and drilling James Hardie asbestos cement fibro sheets.

Mr Talifero contracted mesothelioma and brought a claim against Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited) in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW. The claim related only to his exposure to asbestos in Australia. The Dust Diseases Tribunal found that Mr Talifero’s mesothelioma was caused by his exposure to asbestos from James Hardie’s products in Australia and awarded him damages in the sum of $560,048.00.

James Hardie paid only 52% of the Judgment on the basis that the Trustees of the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) (the Fund that pays verdicts against the James Hardie companies) determined that a deduction of 48% should be made to reflect Mr Talifero’s exposure to asbestos while in the British Navy.

Mr Talifero’s estate (Mr Talifero having died on the morning of his hearing) argued that the terms of the Final Funding Agreement did not require a deduction where the claim was brought solely in relation to exposure to asbestos in Australia. The AICF applied for advice from the Supreme Court of NSW as to how the agreement should be interpreted. Initially the Supreme Court provided advice to the effect that the AICF was justified in only paying 52% of the damages.

On our advice, the estate of the late Mr Talifero appealed the decision to the NSW Court of Appeal and on 11 October 2018, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and advised the AICF to pay 100% of the damages awarded by the Dust Diseases Tribunal.

The AICF sought leave to appeal the decision to the High Court. Leave to appeal was denied in early 2019 and Mr Talifero’s widow finally received the full damages awarded to her late husband’s estate.

Mr Talifero’s case is of enormous significance for all persons who are exposed to asbestos both oversees and in Australia who have sued James Hardie who will now be able to recover all the damages awarded.

Christine Parkin

Christine Parkin was diagnosed with mesothelioma in late 2019 at the age of 62 years.  Prior to developing symptoms, she lived a full live, working part time, travelling overseas and being an active member of her local community.

Ms Parkin contracted mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos when she was a child and assisted her father to construct an extension to the family home using asbestos cement fibro sheets manufactured and supplied by James Hardie.

Ms Parkin brought proceedings in the Supreme Court of Western Australia against Amaca Pty Limited (formerly James Hardie & Coy Pty Limited).  The proceedings were hotly contested and Ms Parkin became the first Western Australian mesothelioma case to run to verdict since 2011.

One of the issues in Ms Parkin’s case was her ability to recover the cost of immunotherapy (Keytruda) treatment, which she was having in conjunction with chemotherapy at a cost of approximately $6,000.00 per treatment.  James Hardie argued that it was not reasonable that they be required to pay for the treatment, which they said had not been proven to be effective based on Phase 3 clinical trials.  The Court did not accept this argument and ordered James Hardie to pay over $60,000.00 for the cost of immunotherapy finding that it was reasonable for Ms Parkin to undergo such treatment given the promising results of Phase 2 clinical trials and her positive response to the treatment to date.

The Judge awarded the sum of $360,000.00 for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (general damages).  This was the largest award for general damages in Western Australia, the previous highest award being in the sum of $250,000.00. The award for general damages brings Western Australian awards in line with those in New South Wales and the rest of Australia.

In total Ms Parkin was awarded the sum of $1,041,480.00.

Ms Parkin’s decision is a groundbreaking decision for all current and future mesothelioma claimants not only in Western Australia, seeking the cost of immunotherapy and significantly increases the damages for persons suffering from mesothelioma in Western Australia.

Mr Kennedy

Mr Kennedy contracted mesothelioma as a result of his work as a surveyor with Leighton Contractors.  Mr Kennedy started working for Leighton Contractors in New South Wales.  After a few years he was asked by Leightons to relocate to Perth where he worked for the company until 1980.  Mr Kennedy had exposure to asbestos both in New South Wales and in Western  Australia when he was present on site while other workers cut and installed asbestos cement sheets, and in the case of the Reserve Bank Building in Perth, sprayed the steel beams with asbestos.

A large part of Mr Kennedy’s claim related to his loss of ability to provide care for his granddaughter, Penny.  Penny had lived with and been cared for by Mr Kennedy and his wife since she was 2 years of age.  Penny suffers from a number of psychological issues and her mental health deteriorated significantly after Mr Kennedy’s diagnosis resulted in multiple hospitalisations, and for a period of time the Kennedys could no longer care for her, Penny was placed in a group home where she suffered abuse.

As Mr Kennedy was exposed to asbestos both in New South Wales and Western Australia, the Court had to assess his damages twice as the law in relation to damages in Australia differs from State to State.  Mr Kennedy was able to recover for his loss of ability to provide care to his granddaughter in New South Wales but not in Western Australia.  The Judge however, in awarding damages in Western Australia, increased the damages for pain and suffering to consider the effect of Mr Kennedy of him being unable to look after his granddaughter.

The issue as to the award for loss of capacity to provide services for Penny was hotly contested.  The defendants argued that Mr Kennedy would not have been able to look after Penny even if he had not contracted mesothelioma because of his age and her severe mental illness.  The Court did not accept this argument.

Mr Kennedy was awarded the sum of $685, 726.00 including over $230,000.00 for his loss of ability to care for Penny.

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