ACT News


Mr Fluffy owners call in lawyers as lawsuits against government mount

Minor disturbance could cause the asbestos to become airborne.

Another two Mr Fluffy homeowners could sue the ACT Government for more than $1.35 million after they unknowingly bought properties contaminated with deadly asbestos.

And Fairfax Media understands many more affected property holders have engaged lawyers to bolster their legal positions through the courts.

But the property owner's lawyers, Canberra firm Snedden Hall & Gallop, said it only filed the lawsuits in the ACT Supreme Court to protect the families' legal rights as the six-year time limit within which a claim could be brought expired within months.

The law firm said the claims would be a legal fallback and would only become active in the event a buyback agreement could not be reached with the ACT Government.

One of the homeowners, who wished to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, said he had concerns about the government's Mr Fluffy buyback program.

"From the point of view of the documentation that's out there, there are quite a few things that are missing, such as mortgage insurance," he said.


"If the government had sorted [the buyback scheme] out earlier, then we wouldn't have had to have taken this action.

"I had to file it before I had further details about what's on offer."

Court papers said the two families purchased homes in Pearce and Cook – which had loose asbestos fluffsprayed into the ceiling by Mr Fluffy between 1968 and 1979 - in early 2009.

But they were not informed during the sale that the properties could still contain the potentially deadly amosite asbestos.

They were only alerted to the danger when the ACT Work Safety Commissioner posted letters of warning to the owners of 1049 Canberra homes in February.

Asbestos audits of the homes found loose amosite fibres in cornice gaps, roof space, wall gaps, architraves, and subfloor areas.

The assessment also found that minor disturbance could cause the friable asbestos to become airborne.

Court documents named a number of defendants, including the ACT government, the former owner, real estate agents, law firms and building companies.

The lawsuits claim that none of the defendants advised them of the asbestos risk in their homes.

The owners have sought a combined total of $1,356,425 in damages, compensation, interest, costs, and an order for the rescission of the 2008 contract of sale.

Snedden Hall & Gallop alleged their clients suffered loss and damage as a result of the defendants' negligence, misrepresentation, misleading and deceptive conduct, and breach of fiduciary duty.

The Pearce homeowners claimed payment for the $665,000 purchase price, $141,425 in renovations, interests, and costs.

The Cook family sought to be compensated for the purchase price of $550,000, interest, and costs paid.

The cases follow two similar lawsuits involving ACT Mr Fluffy homeowners.

In September, the owners of a Forrest home filed papers to sue the ACT and others for $2.62 million.

A former Macgregor Mr Fluffy homeowner who contracted deadly mesothelioma from asbestos exposure has filed a personal injury claim against the Commonwealth.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW on Tuesday.