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Black Saturday survivors edge closer to settlement

Date

Goya Dmytryshchak

Lawyers representing survivors of Black Saturday’s deadliest blaze have placed a public notice in Monday’s Age advising that an application has been lodged to approve Australia's biggest class action settlement.

Maurice Blackburn, acting for 5000 claimants affected by the 2009 Kilmore East-Kinglake fire, has secured Australia’s largest settlement of nearly half a billion dollars.

Lead plaintiff Carol Matthews initiated the lawsuit against energy distributor SPI AusNet and assets manager Utility Services Group, after the Bushfires Royal Commission found the Kilmore East fire started from a broken SP AusNet powerline.

Ms Matthews, whose son was among 119 people killed, is acting on behalf of relatives of those who died, people injured and more than 1200 homeowners who lost property in the fires.

Maurice Blackburn class actions spokesman Cameron Scott said Ms Matthews had lodged an application to approve the settlement of $494 million without defendants' admission of liability.

‘‘While we know no amount of money can replace what people lost in this fire, at almost half a billion dollars, this is the biggest class action settlement in Australian history and we are confident our group members will welcome this as a significant measure of justice and compensation’’ Mr Scott said.

An application for approval of the proposed settlement will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 24.

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