MADDENS SETTLES GIPPSLAND BUSHFIRE CLASS ACTION
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.
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.
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