Seqwater, SunWater and QLD targeted by flood class action
THOUSANDS of Ipswich and Brisbane residents have launched a class action claiming their homes and businesses would not have been inundated during the 2011 flood disaster if the release of water from Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams had been handled correctly.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers filed the claim against Seqwater, SunWater and the State of Queensland on Tuesday in the New South Wales Supreme Court on behalf of more than 4500 affected residents and business owners.
The firm claims dam engineers were negligent in their handling of the disaster which ultimately led to huge volumes of water being released downstream as a last resort to protect the structural integrity of the dam.
Maurice Blackburn principal Damian Scattini said on Tuesday the court action would see much more scrutiny placed on things compared to the rushed Commission of Inquiry.
"In layman terms they screwed up," he said.
"It is the conduct of the flood engineers that is at the centre of this case.
"The reality is that this flood did not need to happen."
Mr Scattini said the 150 page claim was lodged in New South Wales because there is no avenue in Queensland to launch a class action.
"We have people in Ipswich still living in caravans," he said.
"This is certainly not a holy mary punt.
"We have put in a significant amount of time and resources into this to ensure the people of Ipswich and Brisbane get the best possible result."
Bentham IMF director John Walker said considerable work had gone into the preparation of the class action.
The company is funding the multi-million dollar claim.
"We have spent five or six million so far to ensure we get it correct," he said.
"Three years' of work and considerable resources have gone into to building a strong case for flood victims in Ipswich and Brisbane."
He said people who had signed up to the class action had agreements in place of between 5% and 30% payable to Maurice Blackburn, who are operating on a no-win no-fee basis, if they received any sort of compensation.
A spokeswoman for Premier Campbell Newman said it would be irresponsible to comment on a matter that is now before the courts.