Appeal means Brisbane flood victims may wait years for compensation

Appeal means Brisbane flood victims may wait years for compensation

The potential for millions of dollars in compensation is now in limbo for almost 7,000 victims from the 2011 Brisbane flood, after dam operators filed an appeal over a court decision finding them partly responsible for water damage. 

State-owned enterprises Seqwater and Sunwater have lodged appeals against the NSW Supreme Court's decision in November that they were liable, together with the State of Queensland, in negligence to members of a class action.

Sunwater made the announcement of its appeal on Friday, following Seqwater's appeal lodged on 21 February, prompting calls from law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers for the Queensland Government to intervene.

"Today is an incredibly hard day for the thousands of flood victims in our class action, who now face a very long road to compensation as a result of both state owned entities Sunwater and Seqwater confirming they will appeal the floods class action judgment," said Maurice Blackburn principal Rebecca Gilsenan.

"The announcement today by Sunwater confirms that unless a solution is found soon our clients face many long months, if not years, of having to wait for the compensation they deserve.

"The only path to a resolution in the near term is for the State Government to step in."

The law firm's flood victim clients have "had enough" after nine years of waiting, according to Gilsenan.

"The people who lost so much unnecessarily in the floods of 2011 do not understand the differences between the State Government and its entities or about fights between the State and insurers," she said.

"To them, it all just sounds like delay to their ability to move forward."

International litigation company IMF Bentham (ASX: IMF) will fund the defence of the appeals on behalf of the class action claimants, and has estimated potential income from the case at $120-150 million of which it would receive $25 million.

"This estimate is based on conservative assumptions, including as to possible resolution outcomes which may ultimately be exceeded," IMF said.

"The timing of such recognition is uncertain and will be subject to applicable accounting standards. IMF notes that it is not possible at this stage to provide a precise estimate of future income due to the need for a detailed damages assessment to be conducted for all group members."

The Supreme Court of NSW is due to hear the question of apportionment of liability between the defendants starting on 29 April 2020.

Photo: Somersetpedia.paul

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