Asbestos – The Movie – Reputation Risk Management

Australia’s James Hardie company is about to experience being depicted as a corporate bad actor in a new made for tv movie debuting this weekend in Australia. The movie is Devil’s Dust, and is about asbestos inhalation killing Bernie Banton when he developed and died of mesothelioma. The movies also is depicted as a saga of a "corporate cover-up," with book writer Matt Peacock having written a highly critical book attacking the company’s handling of asbestos. The making of movie has been in the Australian media for some time. The movie is now starting to garner attention in the US through asbestos web sites.

As a general rule, toxic tort defendants do not like their issues becoming part of mass market entertainment. But it does happen. Erin Brockovich and Civil Action come to mind as examples. To date, I cannot find any corporate press release or other public "corporate level" actions by James Hardie regarding the upcoming movie. Suppose you were part of the C suite – what would you do, or not do?



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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”


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