Casey expands claims against parties in methane leak class action

MEDIA RELEASE: 23 December 2009

Documents have been filed in the Supreme Court by the City of Casey’s solicitors expanding the Council’s third party claim, and joining an additional third party, in the class action relating to the Stevensons Road closed landfill methane gas escape.

SITA Australia Pty Ltd ("SITA"), LMS Generation Pty Ltd ("LMS") and the Environment Protection Authority ("EPA") were joined as third parties by Council in April this year - the first two on the basis of their breaches of contract and a duty of care and the latter for its breach of a duty of care in the discharge of its legislative responsibilities.

The City of Casey is now expanding its claim against SITA and LMS, which, to date, has related to any liability Council may incur in respect to the class action by some landowners in the Brookland Greens estate. The claim now includes loss and damage suffered by Council itself in relation to the costs it has incurred and is incurring in remediating the landfill site.

The City of Casey will also now join its peak body and insurer, the Municipal Association of Victoria, for not granting it indemnity under its insurance policy despite the City of Casey paying its annual premium for such protection.

Most of the claims against these parties only become relevant if, contrary to the City of Casey's position, the Victorian Supreme Court finds some liability on Council's part. In that event, the effect of the third party proceedings is to allege that Council's liability has been caused by the default of the third parties in the conduct or discharge of their responsibilities.

The City of Casey lodged its Defence in the class action on 27 February 2009. The key point of the Defence is that Council has not been negligent in its management of the closed landfill site and has, at all times, exercised reasonable care and acted on the advice of independent experts.

City of Casey Mayor Cr Lorraine Wreford said ‘The City of Casey is vigorously defending the class action against it because we believe we have not been negligent in either managing the landfill site or addressing the issue of gas migrating into the neighbouring estate.

‘The management of landfills is a complex and highly specialised area, which is why the Council has always engaged experts, relied on them and followed their advice. It had also relied on the expertise and discharge of regulatory functions by the EPA.

‘The City of Casey believes that the residents of Casey should not have to bear a massive cost that has been caused by a situation that a range of parties have contributed to, as highlighted in the Ombudsman’s Report Brookland Greens Estate – Investigation into methane gas leaks’, added Cr Wreford.