Landmark silicosis judgment sparks settlement talk
Talk of a settlement is already in the air just days after Friday’s landmark judgment in the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) that certified what would be a record class action suit in SA if it goes ahead, notes Legalbrief. A lawyer for mineworkers suffering from diseases contracted at the mines welcomed the ‘historic’ judgment that gave mineworkers and their dependants the go-ahead to form a class to sue gold mining companies. The judgment has given new hope for tens of thousands of mineworkers and former mineworkers suffering from silicosis and TB. ‘Today is a historic day for the gold mineworkers. For generations gold mineworkers have languished in mines and their plight has never been appreciated until today‚’ lawyer Charles Abrahams is quoted as saying in a BDlive report. Abrahams said the judgment sent an important signal to gold mining companies that courts were serious about protecting the rights of the most vulnerable. However, he said there was potentially still a long road ahead before a resolution was reached, but added: ‘This judgment could potentially lead to the solution that no more mineworkers have to die in the mines.’ Alan Fine‚ who represents six companies that were opposing the application for certification‚ said the companies were going to study the judgment and each would decide on its own whether or not it intended to appeal. The court process could take as long as 10 or 15 years, but the largest mining companies have already hinted they might be willing to discuss a settlement.