An Adelaide man has been awarded more than $1 million in compensation after being diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos in the 1970s.
Anthony Latz, 70, was exposed when he used asbestos sheets produced by James Hardie to build a fence beside his suburban Glenalta home.
In the South Australia District Court on Friday, the company, now known as Amaca Ltd, was found to have been indifferent to the health of those exposed to the asbestos fibres and motivated by a "thirst for profit".
As well as a payment for pain, suffering and medical expenses, Mr Latz was also awarded $500,000 to cover the pension payments he would have received were his life not about to be cut short.
"The last year has been an absolute rollercoaster," the retired surveyor said in a statement.
"While compensation can't get my life back, it does ensure my partner, children and grandchildren will be looked after, as well as sending a powerful message to any company considering putting people's lives at risk to make a quick buck."
In his judgment, Judge Brian Gilchrist said the evidence had established that James Hardie was anything but a model corporate citizen in its attitude to asbestos and its indifference to those exposed to its products.
He said by the time Mr Latz bought the asbestos sheets in 1976, the company was well aware he was at some risk of dying.
"It was well aware that there were precautions that he, as an end user, could implement to reduce that risk," the judge said.
"It failed to give him any warnings or advice about precautions and its failure to do so was motivated by its thirst for profit, which it valued ahead of his safety."
Mr Latz's lawyer, Annie Hoffman, said the $1 million award was the largest compensation payment to a South Australian asbestos victim.
"The finding that James Hardie should pay exemplary damages due to the reckless indifference they showed to their customers when they chose to sell a product they knew was deadly, without warnings or safety instructions, is a significant victory for all current and future asbestos victims," she said.