Over two months since a horrific stampede injured 80 and hospitalised 19 at Lorne’s Falls Festival, most of the victims have joined a class action lawsuit against the festival organisers.
The stampede took place on Friday December 30th as people left the DMA’s set, many for London Grammar, and victims have since described the exit as narrow and creating a “bottleneck”.
Maddens Lawyers’ Brendan Pendergast told Hack today that roughly 65 survivors will take part in the action, claiming that the crush of people exiting The Grand Theatre was avoidable and a result of negligence:
“The allegation is that if proper care and attention had been taken to configuring the area where the acts were taking place, and the scheduling of the successive acts this stampede would not have occurred, that this was entirely avoidable.“That’s the basis of this action – predominantly in negligence of the organisers.”
Pendergast went on to say that he wouldn’t be surprised if damages of over $1 million were payable, and that such payment would form the principal remedy for the victims’ “pain and suffering and out of pocket expenses.”
Festival organisers issued an apology two days after the crush and are currently cooperating in an ongoing WorkSafe investigation into whether they broke site design rules or regulations.
Following news of the lawsuit, P.TV contacted Falls for comment. However, Falls Festival’s Jessica Ducrou told Hack that since victims are now undertaking legal proceedings, the festival cannot comment any further:
“We have had regular contact with affected patrons since the incident and are providing ongoing assistance.“However, given the matter is as of today the subject of legal proceedings, we are not in a position to comment further.“We confirm that Falls will definitely be going ahead in 2017.”
Stories from victims started circulating almost immediately after the incident, notably 22-year-old Maddy (pictured), who, since being knocked out and hospitalised with a fractured pelvic bone and “two beautiful black eyes,” has chosen not to join the lawsuit at this time but remains frustrated at the lack of contact from organisers.
Instead, the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff is 21-year-old Victorian student Michela Burke, who also blacked out and recieved nerve damage on her left arm during the incident:
“The next thing I remember I was sitting on the grass and my arm was limp beside me.“It was floppy on the grass. I remember picking it up from the grass and feeling like it was someone else’s limb.”
Burke, who is still receiving medical attention and is on pain medication for nerve damage, had to cancel her student exchange in Canada due to the injury; she spoke about having packed her bags prior to the event with plans to leave the next day for Montreal.
And while she doesn’t personally blame Falls’ management, who have contacted her to apologised for the accident, she does believe the festival layout could have been organising better:
“I don’t blame Falls, I don’t think they’re bad people or anything like that. But the layout and exits probably could have had more attention paid to at the start of the festival.”