The man who has long led the fight against asbestos in Australia now lies in the hospital “gravely ill.” Friends and family of Bernie Banton, a former James Hardie worker who has been the leading voice for asbestos reform in Australia, say that he is near death and “fading fast” and may not last long enough to see his latest bid for compensation realized.
According to articles in several Australian newspapers, lawyers for Banton believe the Dust Disease Tribunal case he filed after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma last August could drag on for too long or end up in the Court of Appeal. Amaca, a former subsidiary of James Hardie, and Allianz, the company’s insurer, are fighting Mr. Banton’s claim for aggravated and exemplary damages.
Banton, 61, has already received a compensation payment for asbestosis, a condition that is considered not necessarily life-threatening, from a $4 billion, 40-year asbestos compensation fund set up by James Hardie in 2000.
“Bernie is very ill. He wants to ensure that his family has some security … and obviously would like to see the legal issues resolved immediately,” said Banton’s friend, Greg Combet. “They are taking an appeal to the Court of Appeal over a legal point which is slowing things down.”
“I would like to see an out-of-court settlement; a man with terminal cancer doesn’t have time to be in court arguing technical points,” Combet added.