News May 8, 2019

Falls Festival ‘stampede’ class action heads to Supreme Court

Falls Festival ‘stampede’ class action heads to Supreme Court

After two court-ordered mediation sessions failed to find a resolution, the class action against Lorne is heading for the Supreme Court in June.

A sole judge will decide the size of the compensations.

The lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, filed in March 2017, is Victorian student Michela Burke, taking action against Falls promoter Ash Sounds.

On December 30, 2016, DMAs finished their set at The Grand Theatre just before 10 pm.

Much of the crowd was moving to catch London Grammar on the main stage.

They claimed that exits of the theatre were narrow, and a “bottleneck” was created, and a crush ensued as people were pushed from behind and fell on the ground.

It left 19 people hospitalised and dozens more injured.

Michela Burke said she suffered nerve damage in her left arm, and had to cancel leaving for a student exchange program to Canada a few days later as a result.

WorkSafe Victoria stated in 2017 that its investigation found that Ash Sounds had met all the criteria of the 2004 Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding crowd control, crowd size and positioning, and size of exits.

It said there was not enough evidence to prosecute Ash Sounds.

The June 2019 hearing will pick up from findings by Justice Michael McDonald in December 2018.

He said that Ash Sound had admitted to the breach of duty claims, and Burke had suffered injury, loss and damage “by reason of its conduct but does not admit the extent of such injury, loss and damage.

“As a result of the admission, liability is no longer an issue.

“The remaining question for determination concerns the quantum of damages to be awarded to the plaintiff and other group members.”

The Melbourne Age this week reported that at this stage only five of the 76 patrons who were part of the action are in the game to claim “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in compensation.

That is because only five received a medical assessment that declared their injuries “significant”.

However Maddens Lawyers, acting for the festival goers, argued that half of the remaining 71 are still up for medical reviews.

Maddens Lawyers principal Brendan Pendergast initially estimated damages could reach $1 million.

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