Negligence in hotel quarantine led to 2020 lockdown, class action lawyers say
Government-acting lawyer Rachel Doyle, SC, said her guests cannot be held accountable for the political decisions on which the hotel quarantine program was based. The legal arguments were inconsistent and indeterminate, she said.
Powers have been exercised, Ms Doyle said, for the benefit of public health and that obligation to all Victorians would be distorted if policymakers were to put commercial interests first.
Ms Harris said the political decision was to impose a quarantine on hotels, but the way the system was run involved operational decisions in which the government had a new duty of care. Infection prevention and control, Ms. Harris said, was one of the “nuts and bolts of her operation.”
A 21-year-old laid-off worker, Jordan Roberts, is leading the second class action lawsuit filed on behalf of employers – including hair salons and real estate agencies – and employees who have lost earnings and suffered psychiatric disorders.
This case also argues that the government chose to use private security to guard hotels and did not deploy Defense Forces troops and police.
John Richards, QC, said Premier Daniel Andrews admitted there had been program failures when he announced an investigation into hotel quarantine outbreaks in June of last year.
“The failure in the operation of the program as described by the Prime Minister is a failure caused by the negligence in the administration of the operation of the program and this negligence is liable to prosecution for the losses caused to the plaintiffs,” said Mr. Richards.
Plaintiffs should have a chance, he said, to argue the claim and prove their case.
Justice Dixon will make his ruling on whether the cases can continue at a later date.
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