James Hardie settles Qld asbestos claim

Warren Barnsley
James Hardie has agreed to a confidential settlement with asbestos claimant Syd Lacey

Retired carpenter Syd Lacey has made sure his deaf and epileptic wife will be cared for after asbestos-related lung cancer renders him unable to.

The elderly Queensland man has reached an out-of-court settlement with James Hardie after suing over the terminal mesothelioma he developed from the company's products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Lacey, 73, sued the construction giant for $5.9 million in Brisbane's Supreme Court.

But on Wednesday, just a day after the trial began, the court heard the parties had reached the confidential settlement overnight.

Mr Lacey's lawyers said the money would assist the care of his wife Marion - who has epilepsy, anxiety and is profoundly deaf.

"He's very happy, as is his wife Marion," his lawyer, Jonathan Walsh of Maurice Blackburn, told reporters.

"It's a very tragic circumstance where Syd has been in his wife's care for over 20 years and the main reason why he brought this case was to ensure she was looked after when he's no longer with us.

"He's incredibly grateful for the outcome and he's very pleased to now have this behind him."

Mr Walsh suggested the matter should never have reached court.

"It shouldn't have got to this situation," he said. "The matter ought to have resolved some time ago."

Justice David Boddice congratulated the parties on the settlement.

"It is especially important in a matter which has associated with it the trauma of a condition which is going to lead to the ultimate demise of the plaintiff," he told the court.

On the opening day of what was to be a four-day trial on Tuesday, the court heard video evidence from the Laceys recorded at their Noosaville home last month.

Mr Lacey, who is undergoing a new medical trial to help treat his disease, described the 24-hour care he provides his wife.

"She won't have a shower unless I'm sitting on a stool in the bathroom," he said.

The court heard Mrs Lacey had suffered a litany of injuries during seizures including cracked ribs and ankles, as well as her pelvis.

Mr Lacey broke down in tears at the prospect of what would happen when he was no longer able or present to take care of his wife.

James Hardie, now known as Amaca Pty Ltd, had conceded it was liable for Mr Lacey's illness.

But the court case related to how much the company should pay both in damages and for the ongoing care of his wife as a result of his reduced life expectancy.

Mrs Lacey said her husband helped her with "everything", from dressing to housework and shopping.

"The doctor said 'you'd be lucky to live six months'... who am I going to go to?" she said.