Katherine residents want to sue Defence

Katherine residents want to be compensated by the Department of Defence for the contamination of their water.

Aside from genuine fears about health impacts from a life-long exposure to PFAS, many of them claim their homes and properties are now virtually worthless.

Almost 100 residents have already contacted two law firms in the past few days which are holding public meetings in Katherine next week proposing to launch a class action against the Defence Department.

It was suggested in some legal circles this week Power and Water Corporation, Katherine Town Council and even Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson could also be a possible targets for litigation.

Maddens Lawyers from Victoria will hold a public meeting at Knotts Crossing from 6.30pm on Monday.

Shine Lawyers is holding its meeting at the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts & Culture Centre at 6.30pm on Thursday.

Both legal firms are keen to register residents to join the class action.

And both say they already have many residents who have expressed an interest in joining the legal action.

The Maddens Lawyers spokeswoman said more than 30 Katherine people had already made contact showing an interest in joining any class action.

A spokeswoman for Shine Lawyers said more than 60 people had already indicated they would be attending the Thursday meeting.

LEGAL ACTION: Class action are now being developed against the Department of Defence at Williamtown in NSW, Oakey in Queensland and Katherine in the NT.

LEGAL ACTION: Class action are now being developed against the Department of Defence at Williamtown in NSW, Oakey in Queensland and Katherine in the NT.

Shine Lawyers is already mounting a class action against Defence in Oakey, Queensland.

“At present, to be eligible to participate in the Class Action, your property or business must be located in or around the investigation area,” the law firm said.

The main categories of claimants that will be eligible to join are the following:

  • Property owners within or around the investigation area, whose land has been contaminated or has otherwise been impacted by the Contamination; and
  • Commercial businesses within or around the investigation area who impacted commercially by the Contamination.
  • It may be that the eligibility criteria for the Class Action will change, depending on legal advice. If the criteria changes, we will let you know.

An independent legal expert, who did not want to be named, said they was “no rush” for people sign on for one law firm or another.

“I would go to both public meetings and hear what they have to say,” he said.

Letter drop.

Letter drop.

“There are downsides to becoming involved in a class action so I would get other legal advice before signing anything, even an indication of interest.”

The law expert said some residents may receive less for their claim than they might expect because they had not pursued it as an individual.

The law firms traditionally pursue the expensive action on a no win, no pay basis meaning they absorb all the costs but would take about a third of any settlement for the risk they run.

Two years from a possible water fix.