A year after tragically losing her husband to asbestos-related cancer, Melbourne widow Lisa Mugg has described a WorkCover settlement in excess of half a million dollars as bittersweet.
The Seaford resident, whose husband Farid Moghaddas contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos when he worked at Toyota’s Port Melbourne factory in the 1980s, will receive $476,000 plus interest and a pension for three years.
Lisa wants the settlement to send a message to other families devastated by the deadly disease that they are entitled to pursue compensation for their loss.
“There is a lot of confusion around compensation and asbestos, particularly when it comes to entitlements for surviving family members,” Lisa said.
Lisa, who has been involved in asbestos support groups including Asbestoswise, said nothing could make up for the pain of losing her beloved husband but the settlement would provide some relief.
“I’d describe it as bittersweet,” Lisa said.
“Frankly it has allowed me to survive financially while I’m dealing with my grief and it brings me some relief to know that my husband would be satisfied that my welfare has been taken care of.”
Slater & Gordon workers compensation lawyer James Casey, who worked on Lisa’s claim, said the amount she will receive was the maximum payable to surviving spouses under WorkCover legislation.
“Lisa is an incredibly strong woman who was dedicated to her husband and they expected to live long and happy lives together,” Mr Casey said.
“The WorkCover compensation that she will receive will hopefully provide her with financial security. But nothing can ever compensate the fact that Lisa's loving husband has been cruelly taken away from her by a horrible disease that was caused by his work.”
Lisa said her life changed forever in 2007 when Farid, aged 49, went for a check-up to see what was causing pains in his rib area. Tests confirmed he had contracted mesothelioma and he was given four years to live.
The pair married the following year after a ten-year relationship.
Decaying asbestos sheets at Toyota’s Port Melbourne factory, where Farid worked in cost analysis between 1988 and 1991, were pinpointed as the cause of his cancer.
“Farid was from Persia and the meaning of his name is ‘unique’, and that was him,” Lisa said.
“He was a man who was wonderful with people, showed incredible tolerance and patience and was loved by many. He had a wonderful fighting spirit and was just a wonderful husband.”
“To see him go on without complaint and with his usual positivity as he accepted his fate was inspiring but, in the end, it was heartbreaking to see him withdraw from the things he liked to do like tinkering with cars and even just walking. His last months were spent breathing through an oxygen mask.”
Lisa was forced to quit her job in marketing in 2009 to care for her husband until he died on July 23 last year.
Lisa said more still needed to be done in the general community to highlight the dangers of asbestos, which was still present throughout the community
“Someone can take down a toolshed in the backyard with a few mates over the weekend and there is this false belief that you need to be working with asbestos for a long time to get sick, but that’s not the case,” she said.
“It can be one inhalation, one exposure and that can be enough and that’s what people need to know. Of course there are a lot of factors that have to come together but people need to be aware of those.”