Grand Western Lodge Class Action against the State of NSW and Adrian Powell

24 September 2013
Maurice Blackburn has filed a class action on behalf of more than 40 adults with intellectual and psychosocial disability who were residents of "licenced premises for handicapped people" in Millthorpe, NSW between 2000 and 2011. The action, lodged in the Federal Court of Australia, claims compensation for suffering, false imprisonment and financial losses.

The claims are made against Mr Adrian Powell, the manager of the premises known as Grand Western Lodge, his company, Avibin Pty Ltd, the operator of the licence granted by the State and the State of NSW for its failure to monitor and enforce its own licence conditions.

The claim is brought on behalf of Paul McAlister, by his litigation representative, the NSW Trustee and Guardian, on behalf of all people who resided in Grand Western Lodge in the period 1 January 2000 to 15 August 2011 and who suffered in the lodge and claim compensation and financial reparation for losses caused by the respondents.

In the pleaded case it is alleged that the operator failed to:

  • properly care for the physical and mental health of the residents
  • ensure adequate numbers of competent staff
  • provide enough food of adequate quality or suitable clothing or footwear, and
  • maintain proper records of medications and expenditure.

It is alleged in the claim that Mr Powell participated in and encouraged a residents' committee to physically assault residents, to confine residents as punishment and administer unprescribed quantities of psychotropic medication to sedate some residents. The claim details allegations that Mr Powell frequently assaulted and falsely imprisoned Mr McAlister.

The claim alleges that the company, Avibin Pty Ltd, failed to comply with its licence conditions and this failure caused Mr McAlister and other residents to suffer and lose money. It is alleged that the NSW Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care's monitoring of its licensees was negligent as the Department knew that there was a risk of harm to residents if it did not take reasonable care to enter and inspect a residential facility like Grand Western Lodge. This failure to act continued even after allegations of abuse were aired publicly in 2002.

It is alleged that many of the residents of Grand Western Lodge suffered by Mr Powell, Avibin and the State of NSW breaching their duty of care to the residents causing them injuries and misappropriating their money.

Ben Slade, the Managing Principal of the NSW practice of Maurice Blackburn said: "These allegations are particularly distressing as they suggest that some of the most vulnerable people in our community have suffered so much for far too long while DADHC negligently procrastinated."

This action is being conducted as part of Maurice Blackburn's social justice practice.

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