National class actions law firm Maurice Blackburn is launching a class action against the federal government for the 2007 equine flu outbreak.
Lawyers say it’s alleged the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, an arm of the Commonwealth Government, is accountable for substantial losses in horse and racing industries when the EI breakout escaped from Eastern Creek Quarantine Station and spread across eastern Australia, between August 2007 and January 2008.
Maurice Blackburn has entered into an agreement with law firm Attwood Marshall, which has been running a claim in the Qld Supreme Court. Attwood Marshall has over 500 clients who were affected by the outbreak
The class action is expected to be lodged in the Federal Court in NSW within months, Maurice Blackburn said.
UK based Argentum Litigation Services is funding the class action.
Maurice Blackburn principal Damian Scattini said it was “widely accepte” that the Commonwealth failed to implement quarantine and biosecurity measures which would have prevented the disease from infecting horses in Australia.
An inquiry by former High Court judge Ian Callinan AC found significant systemic failures of the quarantine system in Australia.
"Equine influenza is an acute, highly contagious virus, resulting in outbreaks of respiratory disease. In Australia in 2007, the horse population was unvaccinated with no prior exposure to the virus, so the infection spread like wildfire,” said Scattini.
"The outbreak had a devastating impact on the nation's thoroughbred breeding, racing, and other equine industries. Many people and businesses in the horse and racing industry faced substantial costs and financial hardship," he said.
"The failure by the AQIS to have even basic measures in place to prevent a major outbreak of the disease, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and job losses,” he said.
The class action will be open to eligible individuals and businesses who suffered economic loss as a result of the outbreak. Maurice Blackburn will work with Attwood Marshall who initially established the case.