South African Court Allows Silicosis Lung-Disease Damage Class Action

The high court in Johannesburg has certified a class action by mineworkers against gold mining companies in South Africa.

Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo said at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg Friday, 13 May 2016.

Class action is the only realistic option through which most mineworkers can assert their constitutional rights

If it hadn’t been authorized, “impoverished, indigent workers won’t be able to access justice,” he said.

After examining legal prescripts‚ we reached a conclusion that there are sufficient issues to certify a class action where there would be two classes; the silicosis class and the TB class

As reported by Bloomberg, lawyers for the applicants say, the judgment allows about 200,000 former gold miners suffering from the diseases to join the class action lawsuit that would sue 32 mining companies for damages caused by unsafe working conditions.

What is Silicosis

Silicosis as defined by Lung.org:

Silicosis: A lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and mineral ores such as quartz. It mostly affects workers exposed to silica dust in occupations such mining, glass manufacturing, and foundry work. Over time, exposure to silica particles causes scarring in the lungs, which can harm your ability to breathe.

Current and former underground mineworkers who contracted silicosis and pulmonary tuberculosis constitute the class, as do families of employees who have died from the diseases, Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo said.

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