Asbestos worker’s wife wins $600,000 NSW government lawsuit after she and her husband died of rare mesothelioma cancer
- Dian Pond died of asbestos-induced cancer last year
- Her husband was exposed to asbestos at work for the NSW government
- His daughter received more than $600,000
Dian Pond’s family was awarded more than $600,000 after a judge found she contracted a rare cancer from inhaling asbestos dust on her husband’s work clothes.
From 1962 to 1970, Mrs. Pond’s husband, David, handled, installed and removed insulation and other asbestos-filled materials while working for the New South Wales Railway Department.
The dust and cancerous fibers would settle on Mr. Pond’s clothes, where they would be brushed off while his wife did the laundry in the family home.
In 2009, Mr. Pond died of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer caused by inhalation of asbestos that typically affects the lungs.
Twelve years later, Mrs. Pond began to have difficulty breathing.
Dian Pond died of asbestos cancer while doing her husband’s laundry, 12 years after he died of the same disease.
“She had watched her husband die from the same condition,” Judge Wendy Strathdee wrote in her NSW Dust Sickness Court ruling released on Friday.
“She had witnessed his suffering and knew what was in store for her.”
Ms Pond took legal action against the state of New South Wales in May 2022, four months before she died of mesothelioma.
On behalf of her mother, Mrs. Pond’s daughter, Davina Armitage, continued the battle.
“Hearing her testimony, often through her tears, was heartbreaking,” the judge wrote.
“She was a woman placed in a terrible situation of having to physically and emotionally care for her mother who was dying of the same condition that caused her father’s death.”
Mrs. Pond was no stranger to cancer.
In 1985 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy, three decades later she had her thyroid removed after she was diagnosed with cancer, and later that year a small tumor was removed from her lung.
But the mesothelioma diagnosis was different.
“You could see in her face that she knew this was not something she could beat,” Ms Armitage told the court, recalling a video conference with Ms Pond’s doctor to confirm her diagnosis.
Ms Pond’s husband worked with asbestos while employed by the New South Wales Railway Department.
Unlike previous cancers Ms. Pond had experienced, there was no treatment.
“It is well known that the suffering of a mesothelioma death is painful and excruciating,” Justice Strathdee wrote.
“Symptoms continue unabated and often cannot be controlled with medication.”
During the last months of her life, Mrs. Pond required attention during the day and night and became very anxious when left alone.
He stopped eating normally and was unable to complete daily tasks, and was short of breath as he walked around the house.
Her pain was such that she was “taking Ordine (an opioid pain reliever) straight from the bottle.”
Although the state acknowledged that its negligence led to Ms. Pond’s death, they believed the plaintiffs should have received $360,000 instead of the $485,000 sought by Ms. Armitage.
However, Justice Strathdee believed that Ms Pond’s suffering was “magnified and exacerbated”.
Ms. Pond’s daughter, Davina Armitage, was awarded $605,296.32 for her family’s suffering.
“One can only imagine how it really felt,” he said.
‘She was the eldest in the family, her husband had passed away.
“Her mesothelioma was contracted from her late husband’s clothing and she had watched him die of the same horrible disease.”
Ms. Pond’s family was awarded $605,296.32 with a future hearing to determine costs.