IPSWICH City Council has rejected James Hardie's claims that the council is liable to pay compensation to former employees suffering from deadly illnesses caused by the company's asbestos products.
The Australian revealed in September that Amaca Pty Ltd -- also known as James Hardie & Coy Pty Ltd -- had sued the council to recoup $195,000 the company was forced to pay a former council worker now suffering from asbestosis.
In its defence, filed in the District Court of Queensland last week, the Ipswich City Council claims it provided a "safe place of work" for carpenter Anthony Harry Cannon, who briefly worked for the council in 1976.
The council claims it provided Mr Cannon with masks and respiratory protection and did not allow him to "engage in dusty work without ascertaining the nature of that dust and the dangers".
Mr Cannon successfully sued James Hardie last year, claiming he had used asbestos cement sheeting manufactured and supplied by James Hardie during his work as a carpenter in the 1970s.
After settling with Mr Cannon, James Hardie then sued Ipswich City Council, alleging Mr Cannon's injuries fully or partly resulted from the council's negligence in not protecting him from asbestos.
The company claimed Mr Cannon was required to cut thick compressed fibro sheets with a power saw during his time at the council.
In court documents, Mr Cannon said the clouds of dust produced were so thick it was difficult to see his colleagues.
An integral part of James Hardie's claim against the council was that if Mr Cannon had sued his former employer, it too would have been liable for his injuries.
But the council has argued Mr Cannon is not legally entitled to seek damages from it.
When James Hardie launched its legal action last year, Ipswich City Council Mayor Paul Pisasale slammed the lawsuit as "un-Australian" and vowed to fight the claim in the courts.
Yesterday, he said: "The (council's) strong defence speaks for itself. We will await a response from the plaintiff."