A full bench of the Johannesburg High Court has approved the settlement of the silicosis and tuberculosis class action suit.
The settlement is between the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group – representing African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye Stillwater, and settlement classes’ representatives as well as the settlement classes’ attorneys Richard Spoor Inc, Abrahams Kiewitz Inc and the Legal Resources Centre.
One further step that needs to be taken before the commencement of the operations of the Trust which will administer claims and payments to eligible claimants, is that class members need to be given the opportunity to opt out of the settlement.
This is because the agreement acknowledges that no individual can be forced to forego his or her right to pursue litigation should he or she so choose.
Over the next few weeks court approved notices will be published and broadcast in newspapers in South Africa and other southern African countries, and on scores of radio stations in those areas.
The notices will inform class members of their right to opt out. These will be published and broadcast repeatedly for four weeks, and class members will then have an additional 60 days to submit their opt out forms, if they so wish.
Class members should not sign any opt out forms if they seek to benefit from the settlement. The parties to the agreement are confident that the support of class members for the settlement is overwhelmingly positive.
This is evidenced by the fact that no formal opposition was argued by any class members before the court, in the hearing that took place in late May.
Once the opt out period is over, and the settlement agreement becomes effective, the Tshiamiso Trust will then commence with the real work of implementing the settlement.
This will include the Trust tracking and tracing class members, processing all submitted claims, including the undertaking of benefit medical examinations and the payment of benefits to eligible claimants.
Benefits provided for in the agreement and other details can be found here.