Falls Festival to pay $7million to crowd crush victims in class action settlement

The settlement was approved last week by the Victorian Supreme Court

The company behind Falls Festival has agreed to pay just under $7million to victims of the 2016 crowd crush incident in a class action settlement.

A group of festivalgoers were crushed during a crowd stampede while leaving the Grand Theatre stage of the festival’s Lorne leg four years ago. Paramedics ended up treating around 80 people, with 20 taken to hospital for further treatment.

Court proceedings commenced the following year by lead plaintiff Michela Burke, with 77 people eventually making up the class action. The settlement was approved by the Supreme Court of Victoria, in a ruling published last week. The company, Ash Sounds Pty Ltd, agreed to pay $6,975,000 in damages, admitting liability for the incident.

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In a statement reported by the ABC, Kathryn Emeny, the principal at Maddens, the firm representing the plaintiff, said the settlement was welcomed.

“The compensation payments will enable group members to look to, and plan for, the future. In respect of some of the larger claims, we anticipate the compensation payment will be life-changing,” she said.

Burke added, “I am relieved that the matter is close to finalisation and we can finally begin to put the crowd crush behind us.”

In a statement to Hack, a spokesperson from Falls Festival said, “We hope that the settlement will bring some relief and closure for all of the participants.”

“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.”

Last month, Falls Festival announced its 2020/2021 events would not go ahead as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came after event organisers said they intended to host an all-Australian lineup in light of border closures.

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“In May, as the nation seemed to be moving into recovery mode, we were optimistic about forging ahead and supporting our local industry with an all Aussie edition of Falls Festival,” organisers said in a statement.

“We were especially excited to reunite many live music fans, get industry crew back on the job and contribute to the economies of the communities where Falls takes place.”

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