Grand Western Lodge Residents Lodge Class Action
24 September 2013 at 2:55 pm
A class action has been filed on behalf of more than 40 adults with intellectual and psychosocial disability who were residents of a "licensed premises for handicapped people" in Millthorpe, NSW between 2000 and 2011.
The action lodged by law firm Maurice Blackburn in the Federal Court of Australia, claims compensation for injuries, false imprisonment and financial losses.
The claims are made against 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 on behalf of all people who resided in Grand Western Lodge in the period January 1, 2000 to August 15, 2011 and who suffered injury and/or financial loss caused by the respondents.
In the pleaded case Maurice Blackburn says 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 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 Powell frequently assaulted and falsely imprisoned Paul McAlister.
The claim alleges that the company, Avibin Pty Ltd, failed to comply with its licence conditions and this failure caused McAlister and other residents to suffer injuries and lose money.
It is also 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.
"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," the Managing Principal of the NSW practice of Maurice Blackburn Ben Slade said.
Matthew Bowden, Co-Chief Executive Officer of People with Disability Australia said that PWDA was pleased to see that this class action has been filed as it exposes serious human rights abuses for which the responsible parties must be held to account.
"The case presents a significant opportunity for the former residents of Grand Western Lodge who experience numerous barriers to justice. We hope that the class action will not only provide redress for the individual claimants but will instigate much needed systemic improvement to the housing and support provided to people with intellectual and psychosocial disability in NSW," he said.
The action is being conducted as part of Maurice Blackburn's social justice practice.