Marks first class action in South Africa for sick workers; seeks to hold dozens of gold mining companies accountable
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 13, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has certified the first class action in South African history for sick workers, allowing gold miners suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis to proceed with their claims against 30 gold producers, including AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Gold Fields, Anglo American, and African Rainbow Minerals. The miners are represented by South African Counsel Charles Abrahams, with the assistance of Hausfeld in Washington DC. Abrahams and Hausfeld have been leaders in bringing litigation on behalf of South Africans in this case as well as in human rights and antitrust law.
The class action includes thousands of former and present gold mine workers suffering from silicosis or tuberculosis and the dependents of deceased miners who ultimately died after contracting the often fatal diseases. The defendants argued vehemently against inclusion of the tuberculosis class, but Abrahams and Hausfeld presented strong medical evidence to support their inclusion, which the court endorsed. Certifying the class means that the litigation can seek compensation for the miners as a group in a more efficient and streamlined manner than if the miners had to bring thousands of individual actions.
The case was heard before the High Court in Johannesburg, from October 12-23, 2015, where counsel argued that the 30 named South African gold mining companies that owned or operated 82 different gold mines from 1965 to the present, knew of the dangers posed to miners by silica dust for more than a century. The case alleges that the South African mining industry failed to protect miners from silica dust and failed to use worker safety procedures used in mining elsewhere in the world during the Apartheid years and up until recent times. Richard Lewis of Hausfeld said “the case seeks to bring justice and restitution to the victims of the epidemic of occupational lung disease among South African goldminers, one of the most tragic public health disasters in recent history.” The miners are predominantly from South Africa and several other surrounding countries historically known for supplying migratory labor to the mining industry.
“This decision by the High Court is a crucial step in the path to justice for potentially hundreds of thousands of mine workers and the families of deceased mine workers who contracted silicosis and tuberculosis due to their employment in poorly maintained working environments of the gold mining industry of South Africa,” said Charles Abrahams. “We continue to believe it is the only feasible method for sick gold mine workers to have access to justice.”
“The opinion explicitly and robustly recognizes that the class action legal tool is most needed and most appropriate when the poor and underprivileged seek justice against institutions in society they could never challenge on their own,” said Richard Lewis of Hausfeld.
Hausfeld attorneys working on this matter are Michael Hausfeld, Richard Lewis, Reena Gambhir, and Patrick Schultz.
Hausfeld is a leading global law firm with offices in Berlin, Brussels, London, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The firm has a broad range of complex litigation expertise, particularly in antitrust/competition, financial services, sports and entertainment, environmental, mass torts, consumer protection, and human rights matters, often with an international dimension. Hausfeld aims to achieve the best possible results for clients through its practical and commercial approach, avoiding litigation where feasible, yet litigating robustly when necessary. Hausfeld’s extensive experience with alternative and innovative fee models offers clients a diverse menu of engagement options and maximum flexibility in terms of managing their cost exposure. Hausfeld is the only claimant firm to be ranked by the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as a top tier firm in private enforcement of antitrust/competition law in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
For more information about the firm, including recent trial victories and landmark settlements, please visit: www.hausfeld.com.
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