Flood class action trial more than a year away

LONG WAIT: Despite flood resident meetings in 2012 the class action following the 2011 flood disaster will not get underway for at least another year.
LONG WAIT: Despite flood resident meetings in 2012 the class action following the 2011 flood disaster will not get underway for at least another year. David Nielsen

IPSWICH residents who signed up to the multi-million dollar class action over the 2011 flood disaster will have to wait at least another year before the case goes to trial.

About 5000 people across Ipswich and Brisbane are involved in the class action - one of the largest of its types witnessed in Australia.

The case will centre on claims Wivenhoe and Somerset Dam operators acted negligently and contributed to the scale of the disaster after they released large amounts of water to prevent the dams collapsing.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn is acting on behalf of the victims in the high-profile case against Seqwater, Sunwater and the State of Queensland.

Maurice Blackburn principal Damian Scattini said there were more than 6200 individual flood locations which had been identified across Ipswich and Brisbane.

He said 1700 individual flood locations had been identified in Ipswich - with the majority located in Goodna and North Booval.

"The whole process is travelling along very nicely," he said.

"We have recently received the defence material and are taking our time to go through that.

"All parties are in agreement that this is an extremely large and complex exercise."

Mr Scattini said thousands of Ipswich properties and businesses were affected, and if dam operators are judged to have acted negligently then victims needed to be compensated.

He said he would not put the cart before the horse and speculate on a possible compensation amounts - but indicated it could be as much as a billion dollars.

"Our case is very simple - they disregarded the weather forecasts," he said.

"The dams filled up, they panicked and in doing so dumped millions of litres of water into the lounge rooms of thousands of Ipswich and Brisbane residents.

"Hydrology reports show the equivalent of two Olympic sized swimming pools worth of water flowing over the spillways each second.

"That is an extraordinary amount of water in anyone's language."

The 2012 Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry found Wivenhoe Dam's operation manual was not properly followed on the weekend leading up to the flood peak.

The commission also found dam engineers John Tibaldi, Rob Ayre and Terry Malone had breached the dam's operation manual.

It referred the three men to the then Crime and Misconduct Commission to examine whether they lied under oath in a bid to cover their tracks.

The CMC subsequently found there was no evidence the engineers colluded to mislead the floods inquiry.

The class action trial is expected to start in the NSW Supreme Court in early 2017 before Justice Robert Beech-Jones.

The trial is expected to last up to a year.

Topics:  brisbane class action editors picks ipswich residents trial

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