Sue! Sue! Sue!

A man drowns in 1993 - Family sues for $120m in 2002, should this be condoned?

The linked article offers no comment on or explanation for the delay.

Don’t know what limitation periods in Queensland are, but my guess would be that these proceedings were instituted years ago. Why are they in the news now? Don’t know. Perhaps they’re coming to trial?

Funnily enough, the same case was reported in the Melbourne Age last November here:

At that stage the value of the lawsuit was $440 million. Now it’s fallen to $120 million. That’s a tiny hint that the reporting of this matter may not be giving you enough reliable information to form a view as to what is really going on.

Just recently a man received damages of AU$3.75m. against the Waverley Council in Sydney. He had dived into waves at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, hit his head on a sandbar and became a quadraplegic. The Council is considering an appeal.

The point is that at some stage each and every person should be responsible for their own actions.

The ocean is a truly dangerous place. Enter at your own risk. Do we have to mark every inch of our landscape with a warning sign of danger?

Maybe I can sue if I walk into a warning sign if there is no warning sign warning me of the warning sign?

Just for the record, in the Bondi Beach case the man had entered the water between the flag erected by the Council’s lifeguard service to show where where people should swim. The case against the council was not that they had failed to tell him that swimming at this place was dangerous; it was that they had told him it was safe.

I too am very concerned about the trend towards suing for just about anything. It is interesting though that in the first case, the fellow who drowned was American, and while NOT putting a racist slant on this, I do believe it is more common for Americans to jump on the litigation wagon than Aussies.

That being said, I think we are heading in the same direction, which is why Public Liability insurance premiums have skyrocketted in recent times.

Some things are just bloody bad luck, and I’m with you civilize that going for a swim entails RISK. If you want to be safe/protected from ANY danger, wrap yourself in cotton wool. Otherwise accept that life is a health hazard, and quit trying to find blame and financial compensation when daily hazards are encountered.


Personally I don’t think anyone is responsible for protecting human beings from mother nature. If you choose to swim in the ocean then you are risking drowning as well as other perils such as shark attack, jellyfish stings, snake bites, or getting pinched by a crab.

These two men were adults and fully capable of making decisions for themselves. It is sad that someone died but that just happens sometimes. He bears the full responsibility of his actions.


I am not sure racist is the right word here… but I understand what your saying. Here in America sueing is done way to much over the dumbest of things.

You never played with matches eh?

Yeah, but my mum didn’t sue the matches manufacturer when I set fire to the laundry. :smiley:


From the title of the OP I thought this was going to be a pig call contest.

Mine goes something like this, (rears back to take a huge gasp of breath before bellowing…)

“Here piggy piggy”

It’s just a matter of time…

And of course this is why both Queensland and NSW are passing legislation to cap compensation payouts for public liability cases.

What’s the bone of contention here?

Is it that a dead man’s family has instigated an action for his death, seeking $120m in damages?

Is it that a dead man’s family was permitted to instigate an action for his death, seeking $120m in damages?

Is it the trend towards ‘jumping on the litigation wagon’?

Is it with the operation of the tort of negligence?

All of the above?

A big problem with regard to litigation is the cost. So where we have a lawyer soliciting poor accident victims for a large ‘cut’ of the winnings on a ‘no win - no fee’ basis, I feel we are going to see many many more of these type cases.

Basic question here: Are Queensland/NSW lawyers permitted to work on a contingency fee basis, as the post by civilize seems to imply?

One of the problems with the ‘No-win, no-pay’ legal firms is that they only tend to take on two sorts of cases.

  1. Those that are absolutely guaranteed to win (so no risk to them) or
  2. Cases that are so newsworthy/controversial as to make it worth their while publicity-wise even if they don’t win.

While lawyers etc have always been the brunt of many a good joke about their unscrupulousness, I for one have always felt a lot of it to be undeserved with most solicitors and barristers being hard working and honest people.

It’s companies like good ol’ Slattern and Gormless that really make you question the ethics of the profession.

Hell I know of one lawfirm that has just about single handedly wrecked Papua New Guinea.

For what it’s worth, I’m an (American) attorney who does many cases on contingency. And yeah, I won’t take a contingency case unless I think I have a pretty good shot at winning. However, I don’t see what’s so bad about this. It’s sort of a natural way in which dubious cases are screened out from the get-go.

If the case is weak, but not a total loser, I ask the client to put up a few hundred bucks which will be credited against any recovery. This usually gets rid of the person, since nobody wants to waste their own resources pursuing a weak claim. Of course, many people are happy to waste their attorney’s resources on such claims.

From the OP, it sounds as if you’re bothered in part by the lapse of time between the time of death and the current action.

The limitation period in Queensland for actions for personal injuries is three years. However, that’s the deadline for starting the action, not for it coming to court.

The news item cited refers to the barrister addressing the court in argument.

Taking the two together, I would conclude that the action was instituted within three years of the death, but due to the vagaries of the litigation process, it has taken the additional six years or so to come to trial.