Asbestos victim wins right to claim compo

A former Gove alumina refinery worker has successfully claimed $425,000 in compensation for malignant mesothelioma, which developed as a result of asbestos exposure during the 1970s.

Zorko Zabic, 74, was denied compensation by a Supreme Court ruling in January as he did not make the claim within the period outlined in the statute of limitation.

Zabic began to experience chest pains in January 2014, after a typically long latency period for that type of cancer, but it was ruled a year later that his claim was statute-barred as it should have been filed before 1987.

Justice Barr said at the time he was satisfied that Zabic’s condition was caused by unprotected exposure to asbestos dust and fibres during his employment as a result of negligence by Alcan Gove (purchased by Rio Tinto).

However, Justice Chief Riley has told the Court of Appeal that Zabic’s appeal has been granted.

Zabic’s lawyer Roger Singh of Shine Lawyers said the decision would pave the way for other asbestos victims in the Northern Territory previously denied the ability to make similar claims, ABC reported.

“Today's decision is a win for workers, a win for their families and a win for humanity,” he said last week.

A spokesman for Rio Tinto said although company did not own the refinery at the time of Zabic’s employment, they had sought to resolve the matter fairly as owner of the site.

“Given that the NT had abolished the right to bring common law claims from 1987, it was our understanding that the correct process under Northern Territory legislation was for Mr Zabic to lodge a statutory workers' compensation claim,” he said.

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