A class-action lawsuit has just been filed against the organisers of Falls Festival today, following the horrific crowd crush that took place at the Lorne leg of the 2016/17 event, which left approximately 80 people injured – some very seriously.
The incident occurred as festival-goers were leaving a set by local trio DMA’S to catch international act London Grammar, with the crowd’s push towards the seemingly inadequate exits causing some to be crushed against the barriers or beneath the resulting stampede.
As we reported last year, lawyers from Maddens immediately began preliminary steps to build a case against the festival, urging those affected to come forward and take part in a class-action lawsuit. That lawsuit has been filed, according to a report on triple j’s Hack, with 65 participants seeking damages in the case.
“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,” Maddens class action principal Brendan Pendergast told the program tonight.
“That’s the basis of this action – predominantly in negligence of the organisers.
In terms of damages, he’s confident of hefty financial repercussions for the festival. “It wouldn’t surprise me if damages of that order [over $1 million] were payable,” he said, “but it’s very early days.”
Pendergast has maintained since the incident that inadequate exits and the overlapping scheduling of two popular acts had a direct impact on the severity of the crush.
At the time of the crush, he cited “entrances and exits to the venue in question, barricades surrounding walkways, even the material on the walkways themselves,” as contributing factors. “These were all conditions that were well outside the control of festival patrons.
“These revellers purchased their tickets to, and attended, the Falls event in good faith that their safety, health and well-being would be preserved.”
Falls co-producer Jessica Ducrou has responded with a new statement, reasserting that the festival is “cooperating with WorkSafe in its investigation” and will “definitely” return in 2017.
“We have had regular contact with affected patrons since the incident and are providing ongoing assistance,” she said. “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.”
Falls organisers expressed soon after the event that they were “completely devastated” by the incident and cited “a confluence of events” as the cause, promising “an investigation into the various contributing factors, which will take some weeks to determine.”
The results of those investigations will no doubt play a part in the legal proceedings that are about to unfold.