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Gerard McMahon, TurnerFreeman

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Gerard is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law. Gerard specialises and practices in the area of asbestos litigation and acts for clients suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos related lung cancers. He also has an extensive personal injury practice in the areas of compensation, work injury damages, motor vehicle accident claims, public and product liability claims, superannuation & disability claims and also practices in the area of Elder Law.

Location: Gerard is based in our Newcastle office but also sees clients at our Gloucester office, the Central Coast and mid North Coast areas, in hospitals and at client’s homes. Gerard was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW in 1988. He joined Turner Freeman as an employed solicitor in December 2000. He joined the partnership in June 2002.

Gerard has more than 25 years experience in personal injury law and 13 years experience representing clients suffering from various dust diseases.

Gerard acted in a landmark decision for John Booth, a brake lining worker who was suffering from mesothelioma after working with brake linings manufactured by James Hardie & Coy Pty Ltd and Hardie Ferodo Pty Ltd. The Booth case is the mot important decision of the High Court of Australia in mesothelioma claims.

“The law should ensure that all Australians have a fair go. I am very proud of my work in the Booth case. I would like to think that my work helped to achieve that”.

The ruling in Booth provided an immense relief for Mr Booth but it wasn’t just for himself or for the money that he did it. Although it was a long and complicated case he was determined to succeed so that other victims would benefit.”

Dust Diseases – Mesothelioma – John Booth John Booth contracted mesothelioma when he was 71. He had worked with brake linings containing asbestos for about 30 years. Most of the brake linings that he worked with were manufactured by James Hardie & Coy Pty Ltd and a related Hardie company Hardie Ferodo Pty Ltd. He sought damages from both companies in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW. In the hearing in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW both companies argued that whilst medical knowledge could prove that asbestos caused mesothelioma it did not prove that it was asbestos products manufactured by James Hardie and/or Hardie Ferodo which caused Mr Booth’s mesothelioma. The companies asserted that no one could know which exposure to asbestos and from what source the mesothelioma was caused. It was up to Mr Booth to prove which exposure caused his mesothelioma and they argued that on the medical evidence that he couldn’t do it. Had the Hardies companies succeeded it would have had a dramatic effect on the rights of victims in that most victims would have found it very difficult to prove their case and obtain compensation. The Dust Diseases Tribunal found in Mr Booth’s favour. Both companies appealed to the New South Wales Court of Appeal. The Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. Both companies then sought special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia. Leave was granted by the Court but was limited to the issue as to whether the medical evidence was sufficient to prove that the asbestos in the James Hardie & Hardie Ferodo brake linings had caused Mr Booth’s mesothelioma. The Court dismissed the appeals accepting the expert evidence that was relied upon by Mr Booth at trial that the asbestos from the brake linings manufactured by James Hardie and Hardie Ferodo had made a “material contribution” to the development by John Booth of his mesothelioma. Mr Booth’s case is a critical victory for mesothelioma victims, both present and all future victims. If the Hardie companies had succeeded many future claims for compensation for mesothelioma victims would have been defeated. It is estimated that 20,000 people will be diagnosed with mesothelioma over the next 30 years.

Apart from personal injury law that Gerard specialises in he also has a significant elder law practice and acts for a number of retirement villages on the mid north coast.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Laws – University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Economics – University of Sydney
  • Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law

Memberships: Gerard is a member of:-

  • The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia
  • The Newcastle and Hunter Asbestos Diseases Society
  • The Law Society of NSW
  • The Newcastle Regional Law Society
  • Australian Lawyers Alliance