Image for Falls Festival Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Stampede IncidentFalls Festival, Lorne

Falls Festival Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Stampede Incident

Written by Tom Williams on March 15, 2017

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Falls Festival organisers today, over a stampede incident which left around 80 people injured at the event in Lorne, Victoria in December last year.

The festival has already responded by reassuring the public that it will return for another event later this year.

Brendan Pendergast from Maddens Lawyers, the firm behind the class action, tells Music Feeds that approximately 65 people who were caught up in the accident have registered for the lawsuit, with more still expected to come forward.

In response, Falls Festival co-producer Jessica Ducrou says in a statement that the event will “definitely” be returning later this year.

“We are cooperating with WorkSafe in its investigation,” Ducrou says. “We have had regular contact with affected patrons since the incident and are providing ongoing assistance.

“However, given the matter is as of today the subject of legal proceedings, we are not in a position to comment further.

“We confirm that Falls will definitely be going ahead in 2017.”

Mr Pendergast says that while it isn’t “anyone’s desire to put the future of the festival at risk” through the lawsuit, plaintiffs will be seeking payment from the festival for damages.

“[Attendees] paid a very large sum of money for a ticket. They’re entitled to expect that they can enjoy the festival in a safe, secure and properly organised environment, and unfortunately this incident could have been avoided by organising things somewhat differently.”

Mr Pendergast says he can’t put a figure on how much the damages will cost Falls Festival, but maintains “there were a whole host of injuries and consequential loses suffered”.

“People have had to change the course of their lives and their immediate plans as a result of being involved,” he says. “People have suffered property loss and damage, so there’s a a whole host of losses which we will seek to recover.”

The stampede incident at Falls Festival 2016/2017 occurred on Friday, 30th December, following the completion of a set by DMA’s in the Grand Theatre. Hundreds of punters streamed through a small exit, which witnesses say became a bottleneck, as many tried to make their way to a performance by London Grammar.

The lawsuit filing, which has been seen by Music Feeds, accuses Falls Festival of adopting a different style of marquee for its Theatre stage compared to previous years, “without undertaking any or any adequate risk analysis in respect of the alterations thereof and the effect thereof upon the movement of patrons”.

“I think there are some serious issues arising out of the scheduling of major acts immediately one after the other,” Mr Pendergast says.

“And the egress of a significant crowd from one venue to the other in a short space of time, the configuration of the exit are… it could have all be managed better, in our view.”

Mr Pendergast says the parties involved in the lawsuit may “convene a mediation and attempt to reach a result without recourse to court proceedings”, but maintains that he can’t predict what Falls Festival will decide to do.

Shortly after the stampede incident, “devastated” Falls Festival organisers apologised for the accident, and said it would investigate what had occurred.

Music Feeds also obtained exclusive footage of the crowd crush, which can be viewed below.

Anyone affected by the Falls Festival stampede can contact Maddens Lawyers through their website.

Warning: Some Viewers May Find This Footage Distressing

Watch: Exclusive Video Of “Shocking” Falls Festival Stampede

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