A decision from the High Court of Australia has reversed a previous ruling and found that a group of non-executive directors at James Hardie Industries breached their duties when they approved statements about the company’s asbestos trust funding that turned out to be false.
In 2001, James Hardie announced a restructuring of its finances that included the creation of two subsidiaries that would handle any asbestos lawsuits levied against the company. The Medical Research and Compensation Foundation was created so it could pay out any mesothelioma claims to victims of asbestos exposure that were connected with the company’s products.
At the time, the company said that the foundation was “fully funded” to pay out all current and future claims.
However, by 2009 the company reversed course when it announced that the foundation was short by $1.5 billion and could be unable to pay out claims by 2011, Bloomberg reported.
The High Court found that the non-executive directors at James Hardie had approved a draft of the announcement that promised the foundation would be “fully funded” and deemed them to be at fault for the misleading information, which was deliberately aimed at investors and the Australian Stock Exchange.
According to The Australian, Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia President Barry Robson praised the High Court decision, and added that it brought “justice at last” to the families who had been harmed by James Hardie asbestos products.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and now suffer from mesothelioma, call Sokolove Law today to learn more about pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit.