The Victorian Labor government has asked a judge to dismiss legal claims of economic loss and mental injury by individuals and businesses who were impacted during the state’s second wave, describing the claims as “futile.”
The class actions, which workers and businesses have brought, claim that the state’s handling of hotel quarantine, which allowed the CCP virus to leak into the community, was negligent and caused foreseeable loss.
The claims, however, do not argue that restrictions should not have been imposed.
In the worker class action, the lead plaintiff, Jordan Roberts, who was made redundant from his job in Tullamarine on Aug. 14, 2020, during Victoria’s stage four restrictions, is filing a lawsuit against the state for economic loss and psychiatric injury.
The lead plaintiff in the business class action, Anthony Ferrara of 5 Boroughs NY Pty Ltd, which owns a New York-inspired restaurant at Keilor Park, has filed for economic loss due to Melbourne’s 112-day lockdown last year.
Speaking at Victoria’s Supreme Court on May 31, government lawyer Rachel Doyle SC told Justice John Dixon that the class actions failed to identify specifics and argued that “that led to this led to this led to that.”
“It’s our submission that the answer is there is no real prospect of success, and it would be futile to proceed,” she said.
Doyle added that the plaintiffs’ legal arguments were incoherent in their reliance on “the end of a long line of dominoes.”
Nevertheless, Carbone Lawyers, who are representing Jordan Roberts, claim his retrenchment could be traced back to stage three and stage four restrictions, which are alleged to have resulted from then-Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, and Jobs Minister Martin Pakula, reported The Age.
Genomic testing indicates that a significant proportion of the CCP virus cases that sparked Victoria’s second wave could be linked back to Victoria’s hotel quarantine program.
Government lawyer Rachel Doyle told the Supreme Court that Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews acknowledged a failure with the hotel quarantine program and asked Justice Dixon “to bear that in mind when it comes to the overall duty of care and the breach of it in this case.”
The two cases, which could cost the state billions of dollars, continues to be argued in Victoria’s Supreme Court.
In August 2020, Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a law firm based in Sydney, launched a class action (pdf) seeking compensation against the Andrews government to all businesses who suffered economic losses due to stage three and stage four lockdowns.
In March 2021, public housing residents filed a class action against the Andrews government for allegations of assault and negligence that occurred during the two-week lockdown in July 2020.
AAP contributed to this report.