Over 1,300 businesses seek compensation.
The Victorian government will soon have to hear an important class action lawsuit against COVID-19 lockdowns, after repeatedly trying to have the case thrown out since 2020.
On 3 February 2023, Justice John Dixon delivered judgment in respect of the State’s application to pause the class action.
The Plaintiff was wholly successful in resisting the State’s application.
The State of Victoria on Friday lost an attempt to delay the class action lawsuit, which has been brought by lead plaintiff Quinn Emanuel on behalf of a group of businesses over economic loss resulting from the 2020 lockdown.
“With this third attempt by the defendants to dismiss or delay the action now behind us, the class action will now progress, and will now do so more quickly. Justice John Dixon has directed the parties to discuss a timetable to progress the proceeding.“
Quinn Emanuel has filed a class action against the State of Victoria (and other servants and agents of the State of Victoria) in relation to alleged failures of the Victorian hotel quarantine program.
It is argued substantially caused the second wave “stage 3” and “stage 4” lockdowns in Victoria.
Over 1,300 Melbourne businesses say they were forced to shut their doors for an extra 112 days due to the state government’s mishandling of the hotel quarantine system.
The case alleges that these Ministers and Secretaries were negligent in their actions and/or failures to act concerning the hotel quarantine program.
The case also alleges that the State of Victoria is vicariously liable for the negligence of the Ministers and Secretaries.
- The Minister for Health and Minister for the Coordination of Health and Human Services: COVID-19;
- The Minister for the Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions: COVID-19;
- The Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services; and
- The Secretary of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.
Businesses will need to prove their losses, but it’s predicted to the cost wanted could be over a billion dollars.
“Having assumed the responsibility to operate Hotel Quarantine, they had to do so reasonably competently – no more, no less… We say they failed dismally,” Damian Scattini from Quinn Emanuel said.
It has been a long road to this point so far.
THE FIGHT SO FAR
The initial class action was first filed in August of 2020. Over the past two years, the defendants (government) have brought several court applications, seeking to prevent the class action from continuing.
Tens of thousands of businesses have joined the fight and shared their stories of struggle during harsh restriction periods.
To this point, nobody has been held accountable for decisions that substantially ruined Australia and its people.
In August 2022, Justice John Dixon handed down a similar judgment, before the government attempted to block it again in September.
The government attempted to stay the proceedings pending a resolution to separate criminal proceedings brought by WorkSafe against the Department of Health over its hotel quarantine program.
This was denied, and the case will now be finally heard on its own.
But just how will it go?
Let’s not forget the important Supreme Court challenge that was thrown out in New South Wales in 2021:
The Supreme Court had to shut down livestreaming of the case due to massive numbers tuning in to watch.
This was the first major court challenge against restrictions, despite many charlatan solicitors claiming they would during the pandemic period (only to do nothing and just grow their social media audiences), and it failed.
However, this lawsuit should have much more of a case.
Victoria was subject to the longest lockdown period in the entire world. Even the former Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the state’s restrictions went a ‘bit far’.
Tens of thousands of people were forced to leave the state during this period, allowing for Dan Andrews to have little opposition when recently re-elected for a third term.
In any case, this class action lawsuit should have more legs to stand on.
We will keep everyone updated on this case as it is finally heard.
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