This was the trial of a class action relating to a vaccine (Equivac HeV) produced, marketed and distributed by the respondent. The vaccine was designed for horses, to provide protection against the Hendra virus. The Hendra virus was understood to be transmitted by flying foxes, and the consequences of a horse contracting it were usually fatal. The virus could also be transmitted from horses to other horses, and from horses to humans (and was often fatal in humans when contracted). As such, the vaccine was widely marketed throughout Australia, and horse owners were strongly encouraged to vaccinate their horses (even though occurrences of the virus were relatively rare).
The applicant, a horse owner, claimed that her horse suffered severe side effects after having been vaccinated, which she claimed was caused by the vaccine. In addition, a sample class member (whose claim was also determined at the initial trial) owned a horse which died within just five days after having been vaccinated.
The applicant alleged that the respondent made several statements about the vaccine that were misleading or deceptive, and also that the vaccine breached the ‘acceptable quality’ guarantee in the Australian Consumer Law. Specifically, she alleged that the respondent had represented, via various publications, that:
Following a lengthy trial, Rares J found, in summary, that:
Thus, the applicant’s and class members’ claims were dismissed in full.
(Postscript: On 21 December 2022 the applicant filed a Notice of Appeal from his Honour’s judgment, but promptly discontinued the appeal some three weeks later.)
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