Tony Carbone from Carbone Lawyers is representing over a hundred plaintiffs who were made redundant following Victoria’s descent into stage 3 and 4 restrictions in late July, including hairdressers, gardeners, real estate agents and more.
Mr Carbone told MyBusiness that the civil suit argues that the Victorian government is liable for damages due to its poor handling of hotel quarantine, which is believed to have led to the state’s second COVID outbreak and the toughest restrictions in the country’s history.
“We’re saying that anyone who has lost their job or lost income because of the second lockdown is part of our case. It’s a big group,” Mr Carbone told MyBusiness.
Working on the case, Mr Carbone has found that the second lockdown has devastated numerous employers and employees alike.
“All the people I am representing for income loss are beside themselves. When we decided to launch this class action, it was out of that desperation for the people that don’t know which way they’re turning anymore,” Mr Carbone said.
“I’ve heard from real estate agents, gardeners and hairdressers that have gone through the last two to three months without any income.”
Mr Carbone finds justification for the case in findings released by Dr Charles Alpren, an epidemiologist with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, that point to a link between hotel quarantine and 99 per cent of Victoria’s COVID cases.
“If it wasn’t for the hotel debacle, people would have continued to work,” Mr Carbone said.
Likewise, Melbourne-based small-business owner Michelle Loielo has reportedly filed a Supreme Court writ claiming the contentious curfew was disproportionate, unreasonable and a violation of human rights.
The latest legal claims come after Damian Scattini, a partner at Sydney-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, 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 and retail to 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 at the time.
“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.
New modelling from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently revealed that Melbourne’s Central Business District could have its economic output reduced by up to $110 billion over the next five years as a result of the restrictions put on the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PwC also estimated that, over five years, there could be up to 79,000 fewer jobs than pre-COVID forecasts as an annual average.