The following represents a summary of what was pleaded in the case before the Federal Court. The allegations were denied and the case settled before trial.
Maurice Blackburn filed a class action in the Federal Court of Australia on 20 September 2013 seeking compensation for people with disabilities who were allegedly assaulted, falsely imprisoned or suffered financial losses while they were residents of Grand Western Lodge.
The class action was brought by Paul McAlister, by his litigation representative the NSW Trustee and Guardian, on behalf of 50 adults with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities who were residents of Grand Western Lodge, a "licenced premises for handicapped people" in Millthorpe, NSW, between 2000 and 2011.
The class action was against Adrian Powell, the manager of Grand Western Lodge, his company, Avibin Pty Ltd, which was the operator of the licence granted by the State of NSW, and the State of NSW for its alleged failure to monitor and enforce its own licence conditions.
The class action alleged that residents were physically assaulted, improperly confined to a back room as punishment and administered un-prescribed quantities of psychotropic medication by the licensed manager, Mr Powell, and others at his direction. It was also alleged that the licensee, Avibin Pty Ltd, failed to adequately care for the physical and mental health of the residents or comply with its licence conditions.
The class action alleged that the NSW Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care's monitoring of the licence 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 or ensure compliance with licence conditions.
The Grand Western Lodge class action has settled on the basis of payment by the Respondents to the Applicant, Mr McAlister, and the 50 class members of a total of $4.05 million.
The Respondents have also agreed to pay the legal costs of the Applicant as agreed or taxed.
Maurice Blackburn is of the opinion that the settlement is in the interests of the class members and that it is appropriate to resolve the class action. All class members and their representatives are in favour of the settlement.
On 24 November 2016 Justice Mortimer approved the settlement and the Settlement Distribution Scheme. Her Honour’s judgment has not yet been delivered.
The class action was conducted as part of Maurice Blackburn’s social justice practice.