Flood victims line up for class action
Brisbane flood victims want to be "reimbursed for all the heartache" with lawyers launching a class action, claiming dam operators "released too much" water at once.PT2M4S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2d42f 620 349 January 22, 2013
A class action hoped to claim more than half a billion dollars compensation for thousands of Queensland flood victims could yet fail to get off the ground.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn released on Monday maps showing areas of the state’s southeast flooded in 2011 because of what it said was the mismanagement of Wivenhoe Dam.
During a press conference to reveal the maps, the group funding the litigation, IMF, conceded there was still a chance the class action would not go ahead.
Rosalie was one of the badly affected suburbs in the 2011 Brisbane flood. Photo: Glen Hunt
IMF executive director John Walker said the case's viability depended on how many flood victims Maurice Blackburn recruited and how much flood damage was done to those victims' homes.
He expected to the case to cost more than $10 million but, if it was successful, it would force the state government to hand over more than half a billion dollars in compensation.
‘‘We are still trying to assess the actual budget and over the next two or three months we’ll need to work out how much is going to be necessary in order to make the claim viable,’’ IMF executive director John Walker said.
‘‘Around about March or April we’ll be in a better position to answer that question.
‘‘It may not go ahead. It’s a small possibility but this project needs the sufficient support of the flood victims in order for it to proceed.’’
At the moment about 2000 people have signed on to the class action and another 2000 have expressed interest.
Maurice Blackburn is in the process of contacting every person who lives in the areas identified on the maps.
It is also planning another series of public meetings.
‘‘From the process we hope to get a better idea of the losses,’’ Mr Walker said.
‘‘If the insurance industry gets involved, and we hope they do, they’ve done a lot of work in trying to work out how much loss was caused by the floods so that is a good start.
‘‘We invite the insurance industry to get involved in the claim, not only as a victim but also providing - subject to their insurers' interests - the data relevent to the losses.’’
Flood victims are signing up to the class action under a "no win, no fee" deal.
The maps released by Maurice Blackburn were created using modelling by US hydrologists, however the legal firm has declined to name the engineers involved.
The maps suggest homes in various Brisbane suburbs including West End, South Brisbane and Milton were needlessly inundated during the 2011 summer floods.
They also suggest the Ipswich CBD should not have flooded.
Premier Campbell Newman said he had long been expecting Maurice Blackburn to mount a class action, but refused to comment on the matter further.
‘‘They’re a law firm, they’re going to push the case hard for their clients. I always expected that would be the case. It’s up to them,’’ he said.
Maurice Blackburn is expected to announce whether the class action will go ahead by April.