Black Saturday fire victims win $32 million

Black Saturday fire victims win $32 million

16 May 2012

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Australia — THE victims of a Black Saturday bushfire in Victoria’s northeast have won a $32 million compensation settlement.

Residents and landholders affected by the fire sued an electricity company and government agencies over the February 2009 Beechworth-Mudgegonga fire.

They were awarded $32.85 million in the Victorian Supreme Court today, which will amount to around 43 per cent of the total damage bill.

The fire burnt 32,000 hectares, destroyed 38 homes and claimed two lives.

The lead plaintiffs, Paul Mercieca and Amelia Coombes, claimed damages for their personal injuries and for property damage to their rented residential and farm property.

The class action group of around 80 people included all those who suffered property damage in the fire.

They sued SPI Electricity Pty Ltd, Eagle Travel Tower Services Pty Ltd, the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria.

The matter was due to be settled in an eight week trial that was to have begun in March, but the parties agreed to a settlement on the first day of the hearing, leaving only the final figure, announced today, to be determined.

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