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Federal Court Approves $212.5M Settlement of Three PFAS Class Actions

07 June 2020

Class Actions

Shine Lawyers is proud to confirm the Federal Court has approved the $212.5 million settlement of three PFAS contamination class actions against the Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Defence). 

The firm fought to compensate residents living near military bases at Oakey (QLD), and Katherine (NT), after their properties lost value due to pollution caused by toxic firefighting chemicals. The Williamtown (NSW) class action was run by Dentons law firm. 

Shine Lawyers Class Actions Practice Leader Joshua Aylward said the positive result reached late on Friday after a two-day Settlement Approval Hearing before Justice Michael Lee was a significant victory for residents. 

“His Honour concluded that the settlement was fair and reasonable, and an excellent outcome compared to the total possible sum that could have been recovered by the group members at trial,” Mr Aylward said. 

“If a trial did go ahead it would have been complex and more costly to the class members, so this was the best possible outcome. 

“It is an exceptional result which will deliver relief to many affected residents, and will allow many group members to put this chapter of their lives behind them.” 

Williamtown residents settled the case for 97% of the maximum amount they could have expected at trial, while for Oakey the figure was 103% and Katherine 109%. 

“Shine Lawyers is proud to have achieved this incredible outcome for these communities, so that property owners can move forward after a five year court battle,” Mr Aylward said. 

The settlement comes as the Federal Government seeks to push ahead with a parliamentary inquiry into the class action industry, including the profits made by litigation funders that bankroll claims on behalf of Australians, allowing them access to justice. 

“An independent expert appointed by the court had found the cost incurred by Shine was reasonable and without the litigation funder it was unlikely victims of PFAS contamination would have been able to battle for compensation in court,” Mr Aylward said.

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