Maddens Lawyers



March 22nd, 2017 by


Clients and sub contractors of Watersun Homes left reeling after the company’s recent collapse may have access to a rescue fund to complete or fix their incomplete projects or recover payments.

Maddens Lawyers, a Victorian law firm with extensive experience negotiating insurance payouts, is pointing devastated Watersun home owners to the Domestic Building Insurance Policy (DBI) to help meet the inevitable costs of fixing the issues caused by the company’s voluntary administration last month.

Watersun Homes left around 300 homes incomplete when they appointed administrators last week. It’s also been reported that as much as $5 million is owed to sub-contractors.

Maddens Lawyers Senior Partner Brendan Pendergast explained the DBI was a mandatory policy for all building projects over the value of $16,000, that was taken out by the building company and came into play as soon as a contract was executed or building permit issued.

“DBI cover exists for situations exactly like this – when a company is insolvent, or for incomplete works on a building.

“This cover also allows for certain out-of-pocket expenses, like storage expenses while an owner is waiting for works to be completed, or accommodation costs.”

Mr Pendergast also noted that around 1,000 creditors had been impacted by Watersun’s recent administration and that sub-contractors had been hardest hit.  Approximately $5 million of payments owed to sub-contractors were yet to be paid, he said.

“It may be open to sub-contractors to make a demand for progress payments under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act or make a claim for loss through their own business insurance,” Mr Pendergast advised.

Mr Pendergast said his firm’s experience with insurance providers was that getting the maximum amount possible out of a policy was a complex task – and that it was common for policy holders to end up with less than what they were entitled to.

“It is not unusual for people to encounter difficulties or uncertainties with the insurance claim process,” he said. “Maximising a payout can be something of a skill… almost all insurance policies are written in order to make this a tricky process that favours the insurance company over the policy holder.”

A detailed understanding of the insurance industry’s “peculiarities” was the best way to ensure the maximum amount payable was extracted – including compensation for legal fees, Mr Pendergast said.

“The DBI policy also makes provision for reasonable legal fees – so seeking the help of a lawyer is a low-risk situation for a home owner looking to find the financial means to bring their dream home to completion,” he said.

Mr Pendergast encouraged impacted property owners or sub-contractors to contact Maddens Lawyers for assistance by telephoning 1800 815 228 or lodging an inquiry online.


February 21st, 2017 by


The Jack River Bushfire Class Action has drawn to a close, with final compensation payments being made to all group members a day before the third anniversary of the fire.

Maddens Lawyers distributed more than $8 million in compensation cheques to over 30 registrants, covering the final compensation payment for loss and damage suffered in the February 9 2014 Jack River bushfire.

Maddens Lawyers launched the class action in September 2014, in response to the fire that earlier on 9 February that year burnt 5000 hectares between Jack River and Madalya, west of the Gippsland township of Yarram.

The fire started after trees clashed with a powerline north west of the Egans Road and Yarram-Morwell Road intersection on the morning of February 9.

The Supreme Court of Victoria approved the settlement at the end of 2016 and the distribution of compensation to those involved was completed on Wednesday 8 February 2017.

Registrants’ compensation covered more than 75% of their assessed loss and damage.

Maddens Lawyers Class Action Principal Brendan Pendergast said the mailing of the cheques marked the final stage of the Jack River 2015 Bushfire Class Action and that, in terms of legal action such as this, was an efficient and timely result.

“In the end, we were able to achieve a good result for the claimants, and secure as much compensation as possible for their loss.”


January 5th, 2017 by


Injured and traumatised Falls Festival patrons left reeling after a stampede at the Lorne music event on 30 December last year may have grounds for compensation. 

Maddens Lawyers, in Warrnambool, has been speaking with a number of festival patrons who were witness to, and caught up in the drama, which saw 19 people admitted to hospital and more than 60 people treated by on-site paramedics.

The firm is encouraging any other patrons left injured or traumatised by the incident to register their details with the firm as it investigates the details.

Maddens Lawyers Class Action principal Brendan Pendergast said early investigations pointed to site design being at the heart of the late-night catastrophe.

“Entrances and exits to the venue in question, barricades surrounding walkways, even the material on the walkways themselves… these were all conditions that were well outside the control of festival patrons.

“These revellers purchased their tickets to, and attended, the Falls event in good faith that their safety, health and wellbeing would be preserved,” Mr Pendergast said.

He urged anyone injured in, or traumatised by what happened in and outside the festival’s Grand Theatre tent on 30 December to contact Maddens Lawyers as soon as possible.

Contacting us doesn’t instigate legal action, or mean that a patron has engaged a lawyer. It’s how we can assess the extent of the pain and suffering caused by this event, and the best grounds on which to pursue legal action and compensation on behalf of those affected.

“Registering isn’t necessarily a commitment to take action – at this early stage, it’s an excellent way to remain informed about the progress of our investigations and remain across what options are in relation to legal action and compensation,” Mr Pendergast explained.

“Registering with Maddens is free and it’s certainly not an obligation to take action – we see it as the best way for victims to be kept informed of the latest information.”

Maddens Lawyers has successfully represented hundreds of victims of bushfires across Victoria and New South Wales since 1983. This includes south west Victorians affected by the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and, more recently, the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

Mr Pendergast directed anyone affected by the Falls Festival stampede to visit to register their details.


December 13th, 2016 by


The law firm that led four Black Saturday bushfire class actions has now launched a class action on behalf of victims of a Scotsburn fire that last year burnt more than 4000 hectares and 12 houses.

 Maddens Lawyers Senior Partner and bushfire compensation expert Brendan Pendergast said his firm, which has successfully settled several bushfire-related class actions on behalf of hundreds of fire victims, was confident those who lost property in the 19 December 2015 fire had a strong case for compensation.

The 2015 Scotsburn fire broke out around 3pm on Saturday 19 December when a Finns Road paddock was being slashed by a local landowner. The Scotsburn resident, Roger Skimming, has since been convicted of failing to carry adequate fire-fighting equipment on the tractor he was using, which the court found could have suppressed the blaze before it took off.

Mr Pendergast said his firms’ investigations led them to believe fire victims had a strong case for compensation to cover uninsured losses. “Our early investigations, combined with our experience in bushfire litigation, tells us there is certainly a case worth pursuing,” Mr Pendergast said.

He encouraged any property owners who had been affected by the fire, via damage to property, pastures, fences, trees, livestock or otherwise, to contact the firm to register their interest in the class action. Mr Pendergast explained that by registering with Maddens Lawyers, fire victims would be kept up to date on the progress of the class action, and the investigations that formed part of the legal action.

“Registering isn’t necessarily a commitment to take action – at this early stage, it’s an excellent way to remain informed about the progress of the class action and remain across what their options are in relation to the litigation,” Mr Pendergast explained. “Registering with Maddens is free and it’s certainly not an obligation to take action – we see it as the best way for victims to be kept informed of the latest information.”

Mr Pendergast said the Warrnambool-based firm would be travelling to the Scotsburn area in coming weeks to run a public meeting to discuss the compensation claim.

“That will enable people to discuss the process and the general legal aspects of compensation claims,” Mr Pendergast explained.

Mr Pendergast clarified that a class action could be a lengthy process, from initial registration through to final payments post-trial, but added that his firm had achieved considerable success in the past. “For example, we are preparing to finalise compensation payments in a similar class action in the Gippsland region of Jack River, which has been three years between the date of the fire and final payments to burnt-out landowners,” he explained.

He encouraged anyone keen for more information about the class action process to contact Maddens Lawyers either online or toll free on 1800 815 228.

Maddens Lawyers, based in Warrnambool on Victoria’s South West Coast, successfully represented hundreds of regional landowners and businesses who lost property and business in four Black Saturday fires; Beechworth, in Victoria’s north east; Horsham and Coleraine, in the state’s far mid-west and Weerite, near Camperdown, in south west Victoria.

The firm is also involved in a number of additional bushfire class actions relating to other fires that have occurred more recently, such as Springwood in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and the Mickleham-Kilmore Bushfire that burnt through Melbourne’s outskirts in February 2014.


August 10th, 2016 by


A Class Action representing more than 30 landowners burnt out in a 2014 Gippsland bushfire is on the brink of settling, delivering fire victims a share of around $8 million to cover the property loss and damages they endured. 

The Jack River Bushfire Class Action, led by Maddens Lawyers, has seen defendants Ausnet and BJ Murphy agreeing to each contribute 50% of the settlement costs, without admitting liability for the 9 February fire.

An application for final approval of the proposed settlement will be heard in the Supreme Court of Victoria in November this year.

Maddens Lawyers Class Action principal Brendan Pendergast explained that the Gippsland bushfire burned approximately 5000 hectares between Jack River and Madalya, west of the Gippsland township of Yarram, when trees came into contact with a powerline north west of the Egans Road/Yarram-Morwell Road intersection, around 10.20am on Sunday 9 February 2014.

Thirty-four local residents and property owners registered to be part of the Class Action.

Mr Pendergast said the damages suffered by the Registered Group Members included the loss of two homes, as well as fencing, pastures, outbuildings, native trees and a timber plantation.

This is the sixth bushfire Class Action the Victorian firm has settled since 2009, with Maddens Lawyers the first law firm to secure compensation for victims of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. 

Mr Pendergast described the proposed settlement as a very satisfactory result for the affected residents and property owners, who were still seeking closure on the 2014 fire.

“A Class Action process allows those traumatized by a bushfire to obtain compensation they may have never received had they sought redress on their own. It also offers closure on what they have endured in the two and a half years following the fire. In our many years of working with bushfire victims, we have come to understand, very clearly, that recovering from a fire is a harrowing and arduous process. This is an important step in that recovery.”

Now the proposed settlement terms had been agreed upon, Mr Pendergast said Registered Group Members were being written to, to ensure they were aware of, and content with, the detail of the agreement. He said while the timing of payments was difficult to predict, Maddens was working to settle all claims by early 2017.

“We have reached an excellent settlement on behalf of the Registered Group Members, with fire victims who might otherwise have been left with nothing, now in line for compensation. Our priority now is to ensure these payments can be distributed as soon as possible, so that victims can move on.”

For more information about the settlement, contact Maddens Lawyers Class Action department. 

New NSW Bushfire Class Action On the Cards

June 13th, 2015 by

13 June 2015 –

The lawyers running a class action on behalf of hundreds of Blue Mountains October 2013 bushfire victims are on the cusp of launching a second class action; this one for victims of a second, smaller fire that burnt another part of the Blue Mountains on the same day.

Bushfire class action solicitors Maddens Lawyers, who will go to trial in February next year on behalf of Springwood-Winmalee bushfire victims, are now considering launching a similar action for those affected by a blaze that burnt through the nearby Mt Victoria area, also on 17 October 2013.

A public meeting to explain the firm’s plans, and fire victim’s options, will be held in Mt Victoria tomorrow evening (July 14, 2015).

Maddens Lawyers Class Action Principal Brendan Pendergast said nine houses were destroyed, and another 60 properties damaged by a fire that burnt through the Mt Victoria region in the vicinity of Mt York Road, St Georges Parade and Darling Causeway on 17 October 2013 – not far from where the Springwood-Winmalee blaze destroyed over 200 homes and damaged many more houses and businesses.

Find out more about our investigations into the Springwood-Winmalee bushfire here 

He said the impact of the Mt Victoria fire had been somewhat overshadowed by the sheer size of the Springwood-Winmalee devastation – but that early investigations suggested victims of the smaller fire had similar grounds to pursue compensation claims as their neighbours.

“Our investigations, at this stage, suggest that, similar to the Springwood-Winmalee fire, the Mt Victoria fire started when a tree fell on to a powerline in Mt York Road,” Mr Pendergast said.

“It is important that even though the Mt Victoria fire’s impact didn’t occupy as many headlines as the Springwood-Winmalee fire, the victims of this blaze are also represented when it comes to recovering their losses.”

Maddens Lawyers appeared at a recent Coronial Inquiry into the October 2013 fires that affected the Mt Victoria and Springwood/Winmalee residents. The hearing will continue in August.

Mr Pendergast said new evidence presented at the Coronial Inquiry into the October 2013 fires indicated those affected by the Mt Victoria also had grounds to sue for compensation.

Maddens Lawyers appeared at the June inquiry on behalf of a number of Springwood-Winmalee and Mt Victoria property owners, and will continue to appear on their behalf when it resumes next month.

Mr Pendergast said he was concerned by anecdotal evidence suggesting some of the Mt Victoria fire victims had left the local area and may not be aware of the coronial inquiry or the possibility of recovering compensation for their property loss and damage.

“Our enquiries to date suggest some of those that were burnt out in Mt Victoria have left the area, rather than face the challenge of rebuilding. Even if they haven’t continued to live locally, the victims of this fire are still likely to have a claim for compensation to recover what they lost – and need to let us know what that might be, sooner rather than later.”

Mr Pendergast explained that by registering with Maddens Lawyers, fire victims would be kept abreast of developments in investigations and legal action.

“Registering your interest ensures that you will be kept informed of our progress and any new developments in legal action regarding these fires,” he said. “Registration does not cost anything, and it doesn’t mean anyone is locked in to legal action if and when it goes ahead,” Mr Pendergast explained.

“What it provides is options and access to information. The option to take part, or, as the case develops, withdraw at will.

Affected by the Mount Victoria bushfire in October 2013? Contact us today 

Maddens Launch Deception Bay Flood Class Action

May 21st, 2015 by

21 May 2015 –

Maddens Lawyers, a Victorian-based law firm that ran four successful Black Saturday bushfire class actions, today issued proceedings against civil construction firm Thies Pty Ltd in the Victorian Supreme Court in relation to the flood that swept through the Deception Bay/Redcliffs region earlier this month.

Yesterday (on 20 May) the firm launched another Queensland flood class action relating to the Callide Dam flood that affected residents of Biloela and Jambin in the Banana Shire. SunWater Limited is the named defendant in that action.

Maddens Lawyers Class Action Principal Brendan Pendergast said in both cases, the victims of the flooding were left to pick up the pieces left behind by a disaster that could have been either prevented or moderated had proper procedures and care been taken.

“In Deception Bay, locals are adamant that flooding in the area that was affected was never the issue it’s been since construction of the Moreton Bay Rail Link began,” he said.

“This meant residents suffered their second flood in eight weeks. Some of the residents hit by the 1 May flood were still displaced from the first event. Flooding like what has occurred has never happened before now – and we believe it’s due to these construction works.”

Maddens’ issuing of proceedings against Thies Pty Ltd, the company contracted to build the Moreton Bay Rail Link, followed a public meeting in Deception Bay less than two weeks ago.

Mr Pendergast said it was clear from this meeting that Deception Bay locals also believed the flow of local waterways had changed as a result of the train line works.

He said the Class Action would seek compensation for loss and damages inflicted by the flood, as well as the time residents had spent cleaning up once the flood dissipated.

Periodic community meetings would be scheduled to provide local residents with up to date advice and information and a chance to speak with Maddens personally about their options for compensation.

Maddens Lawyers has successfully secured millions of dollars in compensation for hundreds of victims of fires that burnt out communities across Victoria on Ash Wednesday in 1983 and Black Saturday on 7 February 2009 and is currently running class actions on behalf of victims of other recent fires and disasters.

Mr Pendergast invited flood victims to register with Maddens Lawyers, to ensure they were kept up to date on the firm’s investigations into the legal implications of the flood.

“Registering isn’t necessarily a commitment to take action – it is, however, an excellent way to remain informed about what is being looked in to, what information is coming to hand and what options are available in relation to litigation,” Mr Pendergast explained.

Mr Pendergast encouraged anyone who was interested in knowing what options they may have to contact Maddens by phoning the firm tollfree on 1800 815 228, or by going online to register at

Callide Dam Class Action launched

May 20th, 2015 by

20 May 2015 –

Maddens Lawyers has launched a class action on behalf of victims of a Queensland flood that this year damaged more than 200 properties in the rural towns of Biloela and Jambin, south of Rockhampton.

Maddens Lawyers, a firm that recovered millions in compensation for Black Saturday bushfire victims, today issued proceedings in the Victorian Supreme Court against SunWater Limited, on behalf of property owners flooded when, on 20 February this year, rainfall associated with Cyclone Marcia forced the automatic opening of the spillway gates to Callide Dam outside Biloela, approximately 150kms south of Rockhampton, in Queensland’s Banana Shire.

The Callide Dam release sent a massive volume of water through the Biloela and Jambin communities, damaging as many as 200 homes and farming properties downstream.

Maddens Lawyers Class Action Principal Brendan Pendergast said extensive inquiries had led Maddens Lawyers to conclude the damage caused by the uncontrolled release could have been avoided – and that affected residents had a right to compensation.

“We’re of the belief the devastating impact of this flood could have been significantly reduced had the dam’s operators, SunWater, undertaken adequate precautionary releases before 20 February and earlier on that day.

“We know SunWater was aware of the pending weather conditions in the lead up to 20 February and that the Callide Dam was already close to capacity,” Mr Pendergast said.

“But despite this knowledge, no precautionary releases were authorised until it was too late.”

Mr Pendergast said the potential value of the class action – calculated by the value of the losses suffered by flood victims – was difficult to predict at this early stage. “The nature of the damage suffered means it’s tough to evaluate the true, collective cost of this flood right now, in these early days,” he said. “For example, there are several farming properties in the Jambin area that were affected; it could be years before these property owners know the full extent of the economic impact this flood had on their operations,” Mr Pendergast explained.

He said the Class Action would also seek compensation for time spent by residents cleaning up from the flood, and the physical inconvenience suffered by people who were displaced from their homes.

Mr Pendergast also explained that Queensland law prevented his firm issuing the Class Action in the state where the disaster occurred, leading to Maddens issuing today in Victoria. He added that this would not prevent Maddens meeting and working closely with the Queensland victims to ensure they remained well-informed of firm’s proceedings.

“We’ll be convening periodic community meetings in the Biloela/Jambin region to provide local residents with up to date advice and information and a chance to speak with us personally about their options for compensation.

“Quite simply, the residents of Biloela and Jambin have suffered losses that are not their fault. They are losses that would not have occurred had SunWater followed proper procedures. There is no reason these residents should sit back and simply accept the financial burden of recovering from this event.”

Mr Pendergast urged any residents or business owners keen to know the options available to Callide Dam flood victims to contact Maddens Lawyers toll free on 1800 139 290.