BHP appeals against $2.2 million asbestos cancer case

BHP Billiton has begun an appeal against the multi-million dollar payment awarded to a dying mesothelioma victim.

Last year the multinational miner was ordered to pay $2.2 million to former employee Steve Dunning after a four year legal battle.

Dunning, 54, worked at the Newcastle steelworks from 1979 to 1981, during which time he was exposed to asbestos dust from the blast furnaces.

Diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2010, Dunning is terminally ill and has had one of his lungs removed.

In July 2014 BHP was found negligent by the Dust and Diseases Tribunal, and ordered to pay compensation of $2.2 million to Dunning, including $500,000 for pain and suffering.

The two-day appeal will begin on January 2 in the Court of Appeal.

A spokesperson for BHP said the appeal was made on the basis of "legal principles".

"After careful consideration of the judgement, the company has concluded that the findings and application of legal principles made by the trial judge are such that review by the Court of Appeal is warranted," the spokesperson said.

"As the matter is now before the Court, it is not appropriate for any party to comment further."Slater and Gordon lawyer Joanne Wade represented Dunning and said BHP’s decision to appeal was unfair to the Dunning family.

“It's really frustrating that BHP filed an appeal in the case of a dying man and one of its ex workers,” she told ABC.

“The company has argued every available legal point for the duration of this case and it continues to do so but it is not fair for Mr Dunning and his family.”

Wade conceded it was BHP was legally entitled to bring the appeal, but said the case had been running for a long time.

“Mr Dunning is and will continue to suffer from mesothelioma and it will take his life,” she said.

“It is a very difficult situation for the family and hopefully it will come to an end very soon.”

Last month an asbestos poisoning case against Rio Tinto was dismissed on the basis of a legal loophole.

Former Rio Tinto employee Zorko Zabic, a sufferer of malignant mesothelioma, filed a claim for $425,000 against Rio Tinto after extensive exposure to asbestos contamination at the Nhulunbuy mine in the 1970s.

Zabic did not suffer cancer symptoms until January 2014, and was statute-barred from making a claim due to the Worker’s Rehabilitation and Compensation Act which stated his claim had to be made before 1987.

Image: 9news

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