12 Aug Assessing Damages for Asbestos Contamination of Trading Stock
Our client imported and sold refrigeration products across Australia. As part of running their business our client required a warehouse to store all their stock. Our client leased a premises in Sydney in order to run their operations.
The adjacent property to our client’s premises was undergoing construction work. As a result of negligent construction work, the eastern wall of the adjacent premises collapsed onto the property our client was leasing causing the collapse of the warehouse roof. One of the major issues our client faced was the contamination of their stock by asbestos material contained in the collapsed roof.
Our client was forced to move locations in order to keep their business running. Replacement orders for stock were made locally to satisfy existing customer orders.
Our Advice & Action
We advised our client to bring a tort action for negligence in the New South Wales District Court. The action would be brought against the company carrying out construction work on the neighbouring property. The Defendant thereafter joined their builder into the action as a co-defendant.
The crux of the case was to show that the Defendant failed to sufficiently support the eastern wall with adequate bracing or any other form of recognised support and accordingly, the risk of the wall collapsing was not far-fetched or fanciful by any stretch of the imagination. The risk associated with a collapse of the eastern wall was one that posed a material risk of damage to our client’s property.
The damage to our client’s business as a result of the asbestos contamination was substantial. Their operations had to be moved, stock cleaned and existing orders accounted for through the purchase of higher priced domestic stock. All this damage to our client’s business had to be quantified in what is termed an “economic loss”. Through extensive modelling based off historical prices which included supply prices and analysing our client’s records, we were able to accurately account for the damage suffered. The importance of the forensic accounting behind the economic loss cannot be understated. The challenges of economic loss cases often arise from claiming damages without sufficient evidence. This can extend to claiming damages where damages cannot be claimed. Establishing economic loss can be assisted by the engagement of forensic experts to quantity losses but the direction to the expert and the preparation of the information to be forwarded to the expert all benefit from an experienced legal mind so that the legal elements of damages can be properly claimed and assessed. Too many times, we have seen improper expert reports being filed with the Courts which are ultimately rejected due to an incorrect application of the legalities surrounding the legal assessment of damages.
This case quickly settled shortly after mediation as we were able to convey the strength of the case to the Defendant and the cross-defendant. The Defendant and cross-defendant jointly paid our client a sum of compensation which was significant. Should you require assistance with your litigation matter, please give us a call for a free assessment. Our contact details are:
Berrigan Doube Lawyers
Melbourne: (03) 9600 2577
Sydney: (02) 9251 6699
Brisbane: (07) 3229 0707