Class action inquiries rise

Finding out: Former Camden High School student Sue Mumford was diagnosed with cancer last year. She has expressed an interest in a class action initiated by Marsdens Law Group. Picture: Chris Lane

Finding out: Former Camden High School student Sue Mumford was diagnosed with cancer last year. She has expressed an interest in a class action initiated by Marsdens Law Group. Picture: Chris Lane

Sue Mumford is the first person in her family to have any form of cancer let alone highly aggressive breast cancer.

The Elderslie resident was diagnosed in November 2013 with a non-hormonal and non-genetic cancer.

She is one of 160 people who have expressed an interest in joining a class action law suit, which will attempt to prove a carcinogenic source at Camden High School has caused many former students and teachers to develop life threatening illnesses.

Marsdens Law Group put a call out earlier this month asking for students and teachers, who have been diagnosed with a serious illness, especially cancer, to get in touch.

Since 2012 when the investigation began, more than 500 people have registered their interest with Marsdens.

Partner and personal injury compensation expert Joe Bonura said the law group had been inundated with inquires.

“The majority of people who have contacted us either attended the school and have been diagnosed with cancer or are a family member of a former student who has passed away from cancer,” he said.

“I have been overwhelmed with the response and I didn’t expect to receive so many inquiries. It shows the level of concern people have about this case.”

Mrs Mumford is now in remission after having surgery, 15 months of chemotherapy every three weeks and 20 rounds of radiation.

She only joined the class action last week in response to the media reports.

“I want to lend my voice and tell my experience,” she said. “I feel a responsibility to document my cancer experience for my daughter and niece. Now, because of me, my family has a history of cancer.”

Mrs Mumford went to Camden High School for six years between 1977 and 1983.

“My friends and I often smelt gas,” she said. “We would hold our jumpers over our noses as we walked past the science rooms. We would tell our teachers and they said the gas was probably coming from bunsen burners – I don’t think the teachers had any idea either.”

Jason Benson went to Camden High School from 1983 to 1986. He was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in November 2014. He is now in remission and lives in the Whitsunday Islands.

“I don’t know if my cancer was caused from my time at the school but I find it odd that there are so many cases from the one cluster,” he said. “I am suspicious of the link.”

“There is no record of this kind of cancer in my family but there have been other kinds.”

Mr Bonura said Marsdens would now collate all the general information they received from people’s inquiries to work out a demographic spread.

The information will then be given to statisticians to make conclusions.

He said former students would eventually have to provide documentary evidence of their cancer.

Mrs Mumford is eager to see how the case will unfold.

“I hope as many people who are eligible will join the class action. I hope the case will raise awareness and prompt people who went to the school to be wary of the potential cancer risk.”

Marsdens hope to lodge a class action lawsuit with the Supreme Court against the Department of Education in the next six to 12 months.

Mrs Mumford said she would not be angry if the case proved her cancer was caused by the former Camden Gasworks.

“I don’t think anyone purposely set out to harm the students, I think we just know better now,” she said.

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