The Press

‘Hug of death’ case in ap­peal

- Welling­ton dis­trict courts re­porter Crime · Incidents

Four years af­ter she died from a deadly as­bestos con­di­tion from hug­ging her fa­ther, whether Deanna Tre­varthen should have ACC cover is back be­fore the courts.

The Ac­ci­dent Com­pen­sa­tion Cor­po­ra­tion lost a High Court ap­peal last year af­ter Jus­tice Jill Mal­lon said that Tre­varthen’s con­di­tion, mesothe­lioma, was caused by in­hal­ing as­bestos fi­bres and if that was an ac­ci­dent then she was cov­ered.

Tre­varthen’s fa­ther was an elec­tri­cian and she would hug him when he came home wear­ing his work clothes, and some­times she would play at work sites. To get cover un­der ac­ci­dent com­pen­sa­tion law she needed to show the mesothe­lioma that killed her was a per­sonal in­jury caused by an ac­ci­dent.

Tre­varthen, 45, was among the youngest in New Zealand to die from the ag­gres­sive form of can­cer di­rectly linked to as­bestos.

When she died in 2016 she had claimed ACC for en­ti­tle­ments such as treat­ment costs, weekly com­pen­sa­tion, a lump sum and fu­neral costs. Her sis­ter-in-law, An­gela Calver, took up the fight af­ter Tre­varthen’s death.

Yes­ter­day, ACC lawyer Paul Radich, QC, said it was ac­cepted the fi­bres had en­tered her body and that it was there but he ques­tioned whether there was ev­i­dence it caused dam­age to the body when it en­tered. He said that ev­i­dence was the miss­ing link that would mean there could be cover as an ac­ci­dent. ‘‘Did the in­hala­tion of the fi­bre cause dam­age, in and of it­self, or was it the fact there was no dam­age and then a process of some sort?’’

Calver’s lawyer, Beat­rix Wood­house, said she did not see that the High Court rul­ing would af­fect any­one other than some­one suf­fer­ing from mesothe­lioma. She said that just be­cause the as­bestos re­lated dis­ease could be la­tent, did not mean it did not ex­ist at the point in time the ACC cover would be af­fected.

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