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South African Miners Win Right to Disease Compensation
Hausfeld LLP, a global claimants’ law firm dedicated to handling complex and class action litigation, announces that the Constitutional Court of South Africa has issued a groundbreaking ruling opening the door to tens of thousands of disabled miners to gain fair compensation. The decision in Mankayi v. Anglogold issued on the 3rd of March, finds that miners can pursue such injury claims directly against their employers and thus cannot be thrown out of court on the basis of a “worker’s compensation bar.”
South Africa has had a huge mining industry since the 1930’s and experts estimate that this has caused an epidemic of lung disease in this group of workers. Those who are still alive may now seek compensation. The case breaks new ground for the South African legal system, workers’ rights, and public health.
The case was brought by Mr. Thembekile Mankayi, a disabled South African Miner, who seeks compensation for silicosis, an occupational disease prevalent among miners. Mr. Thembekile worked high risk jobs as a miner for 16 years from 1979 to 1995 and suffered exposure to harmful dusts and gases that have caused his lung disease.
The defendant employer, Anglogold Ashanti Limited (Anglogold), an international mining company, is alleged to have breached its common law duty to provide Mr. Mankayi a safe and healthy work environment.
The court decided that Mr. Mankayi’s claim raised a Constitutional issue because deprivation of his common law right to sue for negligence would implicate the South African Constitutional right to “freedom and security.” The Constitutional Court, the highest court in the South African legal system, further found that since Mr. Mankayi did not have rights to compensation under the national Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act (COIDA), the bar to suing one’s employer in that law could not be enforced against him.
Mr. Mankayi is represented by Richard Spoor, a South African attorney, who has been a pioneer for two decades in the struggle for rights of workers to a safe work environment. Spoor and his colleague Charles Abrahams have collaborated for several years with Hausfeld LLP partners Michael Hausfeld and Richard Lewis in Washington, D.C. to commence and prosecute this claim. Spoor and Abrahams first started working with Hausfeld on claims for restitution for victims of the Apartheid Regime.
Hausfeld has built an unparalleled international practice in human rights law, including cases involving stolen assets and slave labor during the Holocaust. He recently opened an office in London to pursue not only human rights claims but claims in the areas of competition law, securities fraud law, mass torts, and consumer rights.
In addressing the court victory in South Africa, Hausfeld said that: “The case breaks new legal ground and elevates worker health and safety to the level of a Constitutional right. The underlying principles of the decision could be extended to workers’ rights around the world.”
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NOTES TO EDITORS
About Hausfeld LLP
Hausfeld LLP, led by industry doyen Michael Hausfeld, is widely recognized as one of the leading and best-known claimant law firms in the world. It is at the forefront of numerous innovative legal actions that are expanding the quality and availability of legal recourse for aggrieved individuals and businesses around the world.
The partners of Hausfeld LLP have obtained numerous landmark judgments and settlements for individuals and businesses, and have been champions for human rights, civil rights, and the private enforcement of competition and antitrust laws globally for almost four decades.
For further information please visit: www.hausfeldllp.com.
More information on this case: South African Silicosis
Practice Areas: Civil and Human Rights