A New Zealand family has won a three-year battle for compensation for their loved one’s death from mesothelioma, but the victory is bittersweet. Deanna Trevarthen was just 45 when she died of the rare and deadly form of cancer in 2016, and despite the fact that her illness was caused by contact with the asbestos that covered her father’s coveralls when she was a child, the nation’s no-fault insurance coverage deemed her ineligible for benefits. It took years of struggle to get her the justice that she deserved.
According to her family members, Trevarthen submitted a claim to ACC almost as soon as she was diagnosed with mesothelioma: she did not want her family to have to pay for her medical care, her weekly expenses, or her funeral costs. But because it was her father who was the worker exposed to the carcinogenic material and not her, the ACC rejected her claims.
Mesothelioma caused by second-hand exposure is an all-too common occurrence. Many wives who laundered their husband’s asbestos-covered work clothes were later diagnosed with the disease, and the same is true of those who remembered being children, running up and hugging their fathers when they returned home each night covered with the toxic dust. That is exactly what happened to Ms. Trevarthen, whose father worked as an electrician when she between the ages of four and ten. She also accompanied him to work sites where asbestos was prevalent.
Fortunately, the High Court of New Zealand issued a judgement this week indicating that Trevarthen was entitled to coverage, and her family will receive the compensation that she sought so hard to get. Her sister-in-law, Angela Calver, said, “You could hire a builder to come around to your house, he could knock some asbestos, you could both breathe it in, you could both get mesothelioma many years in the future, and the builder would be covered and you wouldn’t. Mesothelioma is a killer – there is no one who has survived – and it’s a man-made killer and so it was always really important to Deanna to rectify that situation.”
Fighting for the rights of people like Ms. Trevarthan who have been sickened by asbestos is what we do. For information on how we can help you or your loved one, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.