The heart of Ipswich was inundated in the January 2011 floods.
The heart of Ipswich was inundated in the January 2011 floods. Lyle Radford

Legal firm confident of victory

IPSWICH flood victims could win claims of $200,000 if an expected class action by Maurice Blackburn lawyers is successful.

Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully said the $1billion plus class action against the State Governmentwould initially determine liability.

About 3500 people in Ipswich and Brisbane have registered an interest in joining the action and about 2000 have signed funding agreements.

Cr Tully said Maurice Blackburn was "planning to commence a class action in the next couple of months, subject to the finalisation of their hydrological advice on the modelling of the flood".

"They are confident the claims will include loss of property and property damage as well as perhaps loss of property value. People who weren't insured could possibly be putting in claims of $150,000 to $200,000.

"While money doesn't buy happiness, it will make a big difference to a lot of people's lives and their families and their children."

Cr Tully said Maurice Blackburn was "reasonably confident the class action will proceed and that they will win".

IMF Australia are the litigation funders who are paying for the claim on behalf of the flood victims.

IMF Australia executive director John Walker said his organisation was looking at whether the law had been breached and to determine "firstly, whether or not the state owed a duty of care by building and operating the dam above Brisbane. And secondly, if it did owe a duty, what was the duty? That is usually defined as... operating the dam to the standard of a reasonably competent dam operator".

"There are two experts in the US who have been engaged - one to see whether or not the dam was operated to a standard that you could expect from a reasonably competent dam operator. The second expert is giving evidence with regard to the hydrological issues."

That will enable individual home owners to understand what flooding would have occurred in their homes and to claim accordingly.

"Individual properties might not have been flooded at all in some cases," Cr Tully said.

"With others in single-level properties, it might have been four or five metres lower. In two-storey houses, it might have just flooded in the bottom." Commercial damage will also be claimable. Goodna resident Oswald Van Sanden said back in March he was "hopeful the lawyers can help us get some money".

"I never got a penny from the insurance. I nearly had a breakdown and had to sell my house for half price," he said.

Those that sign up for the class action have nothing to lose because flood victims do not have to pay for the legal proceedings. Mr Walker said he was "confident that the project will proceed".

"We have got to finalise the experts' reports and finalise a list of flood victims that are part of the action," he said.

"Then we will approach the State Government to see of they are interested in a negotiated settlement... and if they are not, then file a claim."

 

CLASS ACTION

IMF Australia is a litigation funder that is paying for a $1billion plus class action on behalf of flood victims against the State of Queensland.



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