Law firm Maurice Blackburn and litigation funder IMF are rallying Queensland flood victims to sue the government in a potential class action claiming the Wivenhoe Dam was mismanaged during the January 2011 disaster.
Flood victims gathered on Saturday in Brisbane, Ipswich and Fernvale to hear the proposal on offer from the law firm and IMF Limited Australia.
IMF, Australia’s largest litigation funder confirmed in February it would widen its own investigation into the causes of the January 2011 flood events in South East Queensland.
The operation of the dam has been under scrutiny at the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry, which is due to report its findings this Friday.
"The current inquiry paid for by the State of Queensland is not designed to identify all the detail about what the Wivenhoe Dam operators ought to have done throughout the January 2011 flood event, whether their conduct breached any legals standard and if so, who downstream from the dam suffered compensable loss," said IMF executive director John Walker.
"The inquiry will only identify a part of the truth. Communities downstream from the Wivenhoe Dam are entitled to know whether it was operated negligently and, if so, whether they suffered unnecessary loss and damage that is compensable by the State. If sufficient flood victims wish to take collective action, IMF will fund the investigation and any viable legal proceedings.
More than 1000 people have already joined the class action. Lawyers expect thousands more to join after the weekend meetings.
Maurice Blackburn principal Peter Koutsoukis said: "We know people downstream from the Wivenhoe Dam are still struggling to cope with the floods crisis and we need them to tell us how they were affected and the scale of their losses so that we can assess their compensation needs."
"The investigations will take several months to complete. It may be that any claim will proceed as a representative claim or test case rather than as a class action. This will be decided after the investigations have been completed," said Koutsoukis.
Walker said expert opinion was needed to answer questions relating to duty of care, breach and causation.