The four-year long saga involving over 70 victims in a class action lawsuit over a stampede at the 2016 Lorne Falls Festival finally results in a settlement of 7 million to the shared victims. The 2016 crowd crush at Falls Festival left lasting scars on the victims and onlookers, patrons stating that the scene was horrific, as “everyone was hysterical… people were covered in blood” and the crushed supporters were “terrified… seriously fearing for [their] lives”. One victim even told herself as people ran over her body that “this is you dying”.
Another patron Olivia said "I was under there for about three minutes just gasping for air and I eventually passed out and was dragged out and slapped in the face a few times to be woken up. There was a girl next to me who was just lying on the ground screaming for help with her hand out and she just went white in the face and she had her arm up asking for help and her arm just dropped to the ground and she just stared at me straight in the eyes. I thought she was dead”.
Graphic image warning: https://www.abc.net.au/cm/rimage/8173206-16x9-large.jpg?v=4
Maddens Lawyers' Kathryn Emeny welcomed the outcome which would allow around a third of the 70+ victims who suffered the worst and most horrific injuries to receive adequate compensation for the damages and traumatic experience.
One patron who was the lead plaintiff on the case Michela Burke was hospitalised along with around eighteen other victims, and suffered a serious brachial plexus injury as a result of the stampede. Ms Burke said she was “relieved that the matter is close to finalisation and we can finally begin to put the crowd crush behind us."
Ms Emeny stated that it was “fair to say every participant in the class action was still dealing with the incident in one way or another", even after almost four years after the event.
Another victim of the crush Maddy said that, "I am happy with it. It does reflect the pain and suffering that occurred. But it is just money as well. The most important thing that I've been trying to focus on is my own mental state... just working through those things mentally."
A Falls Festival spokesperson hoped that this settlement would bring some comfort to the patrons who suffered from their breach of duty and negligence, apologising for what happened and assuring they would do better in the future, "We also want to assure the participants and all those who attend our events, that health and safety is our number one priority. We care deeply about the welfare of our patrons, and are continually improving and adapting our safety protocols on an ongoing basis."
Festival organisers have since modified stage exit points ensuring these horrific circumstances have not repeated themselves since. It is the hope of everyone that these victims will be able to heal and continue their lives with as little disruption as possible, finally able to put the Falls Festival disaster behind them.