Flood victims have eight days to sign up for suit against state
IPSWICH flood victims have eight days to sign up for the much-anticipated class action against the State Government.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers are seeking compensation for financial loss and damage caused by the negligent operation of Wivenhoe and Somerset dams during the January 2011 flood, with the class action to be funded by litigation funder, Bentham-IMF.
More than 5500 people have expressed interest in the class action and Maurice Blackburn senior associate Vavaa Mawuli said the deadline for signing up had been extended until April 11 due to demand.
Cr Paul Tully, who lost his family home in the 2011 floods, is encouraging all Ipswich flood victims to get onboard the class action.
Cr Tully, also a lawyer, said that "not only can people claim their losses, they can also claim loss of property value as a result of the flood", which could be upwards of $150,000.
"People may have received State Government assistance or been covered by insurance, but they may still have lost $150,000 or $200,000 on the property value of homes.
"After the flood there were properties bought for $250,000 that were selling for less than $100,000. These were flood-affected properties that were then restored.
"The case will be held in the NSW Supreme Court and could be a long process."
Ms Mawuli said in the area of loss of property value, Maurice Blackburn needed to make sure there was "strong evidence to support claims".
"But we are inviting people who have had losses like that to register, because it is only by registering that we can assess their circumstances and determine whether that kind of claim can be recovered in the action."
Cr Tully said the Newman Government's decision to now ensure releases from Wivenhoe were done earlier in future is a recognition of past failings.
"The basis of the case is that the dam engineers were negligent in not releasing the water earlier, which is what Campbell Newman is now announcing that they are going to do," he said.
"So three years after the flood they are announcing what they are going to do in the future. Had they done that in 2011 the modelling shows that there would have been almost no flooding in Ipswich and Brisbane.
"That is why I am encouraging people not to miss out. It costs nothing to join and it is a no-win and no-fee class action.
"Even if the case is not successful, no one can be out of pocket except the litigation funder."
Ms Mawuli said the State Government's recent announcement confirms what the company knew.
"It reinforces what we have always said, that had releases been made earlier from Wivenhoe Dam in 2011 flooding of many homes and businesses in Brisbane and Ipswich would not have occurred.
"It is great that lessons are being learned from the experiences of 2011 and good news for people living and operating businesses downstream of Wivenhoe.
"In terms of our case we have spent two years investigating whether the dams were managed properly and we are confident in our findings that they were poorly managed and this resulted in a flood that was much worse than it should have been."
To join the class action see imf.com.au/wivenhoe or call 1800 016 464.