Damian Scattini, a partner at Sydney-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, told MyBusiness that he served the Victorian government with an open class action lawsuit on 21 August, after his office was approached by businesses across the spectrum — from pubs, gyms, retail, sporting facilities and professional services — who have been pole-axed by the second lockdown.
“These businesses, many of them mum and dad operations, need help now. As things stand, there is no plan for them,” Mr Scattini told MyBusiness.
“The class action provides a path to compensation for losses that were beyond their control and not brought about by them.”
The class action is open to all Victoria-based businesses that supply goods or services to the general public and that were forced to close after 1 July.
According to information supplied to MyBusiness, businesses looking to take part in the class action must have had their ability to supply goods or services adversely affected by any of the following lockdown restrictions:
- the stage 3 restrictions that were put in place in certain postcodes of Melbourne from 2 July 2020;
- the stage 3 restrictions that were put in place in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 9 July 2020;
- the stage 4 restrictions that were put in place in Melbourne from 2 August 2020, including the workplace closures that come into effect from 6 August 2020; and/or
- the regional stage 3 restrictions that were put in place in Victoria, outside of Melbourne, from 6 August 2020.
The first defendant in the proceeding is the state of Victoria, but the lawsuit also names Victorian Ministers Jenny Mikakos, Martin Pakula as well as their department secretaries.
The case alleges that these ministers and secretaries were negligent in their actions and/or failures to act concerning the hotel quarantine program, and that the state of Victoria is vicariously liable for their negligence.
Mr Scattini is previously known for successfully winning a case against the Queensland government following the 2011 floods.
The compensation bill in that case was estimated to be as high as $1 billion.
Treasurer Frydenberg appeared to take a swipe at the Victorian government over the weekend, urging Dan Andrews to explain the “bungle” of hotel quarantine.
“We’ve heard expert medical advice to the enquiry that 99 per cent of cases could be traced back to those quarantine failures, it’s been a litany of failures,” Josh Frydenberg said.
Asked about Mr Andrews’ plan to possibly extend the state of emergency for another 12 months, Mr Frydenberg opined that the Victorian Premier has a lot of explaining to do.
“Again, it’s for him to explain to the people of Victoria about the reason why he needs to extend the state of emergency,” the Treasurer said.
“The one time that he fronted up to hear from his fellow parliamentarians and to be questioned by them, he stumbled over the Australian Defence Force answer and it was very clear where we heard from Linda Reynolds that the offer was on the table to Victoria.
“It’s a devastating situation in Victoria, it’s heartbreaking, and people of Victoria are really hurting right now.”