Hope builds for 6000 victims of 2011 floods
LAWYERS for up to 6000 victims of the 2011 Brisbane floods are increasingly confident of a win as one of Australia's biggest class actions begins winding up.
A decision is expected by mid-year.
The class action by law firm Maurice Blackburn against Seqwater, Sunwater and the State Government began in Sydney in December, 2017.
It has, at its core, the simple proposition that Wivenhoe and Somerset dams were allowed to fill with water, which then required that the floodgates be open at the height of the flood, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
Julian Sexton, QC, for the plaintiff, told the hearing in the opening days that dam engineers effectively "bet against" Bureau of Meteorology forecasts and failed to allow adequate storage space for incoming flows during the crucial days of heavy rainfall in early January 2011.
Maurice Blackburn, in an update to plaintiffs, said lawyers at the forefront of the case were pleased with the progress of the trial as final submissions were prepared in the case before New South Wales Justice Robert Beech-Jones.
"As we have mentioned previously, we are pleased with the way the hearing progressed,'' Maurice Blackburn said. "The Judge's questions and comments demonstrated a very thorough understanding of the case and he appeared favourably disposed to many of our arguments.
"Whilst we think that the plaintiff is more likely to win than the defendants, it needs to be remembered that this has been a very complex case and there are many legal and factual issues to be considered.''
Maurice Blackburn said it was particularly significant that the evidence of a crucial hydrologist witness, which was initially rejected, had been allowed.
Seqwater has consistently said that its dam engineers did nothing wrong during the floods and had actually helped mitigate the damage caused.
Flood victim Paul Tully, a former Ipswich councillor who lost his family home in the flood, has continued to act as a spokesperson for flood victims.
He said a few people had begun to become a little despondent about the length of time it had taken, and there was also the prospect of it going to the Court of Appeal and then even to the High Court.
Mr Tully said he had predicted after the floods that it would take seven or eight years for the class action to be finalised, and his prediction was correct.
"But at least they (the flood victims) have had a fair hearing, which they all deserved, and if they get compensation it will be worth the wait,'' he said.