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Settlement reached on Beechworth bushfire action

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Settlement has been reached on the 2009 Beechworth-Mudgegonga bushfire class action.

Maddens Lawyers Principal Brendan Pendergast told the settlement is expected to be about $31 million.

“The details of the class action settlement will now go before Justice Emmerton for approval and then we can publish details to close the claim,” he said.

“People will have about two months from the date of publication to lodge their claims.”    

The date of the hearing before Justice Emmerton still has to be set.

The Beechworth fire was started when a tree fell on to a live high-voltage conductor, which became dislodged and arced against the steel-reinforced concrete pole. The sparks ignited nearby dry vegetation, with the resulting bushfire killing two people and destroying 38 houses.

Afterwards Maddens issued a class action against SPI Electricity, Eagle Travel Tower Services, the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria in the Wodonga Supreme Court.

This action was due to begin last week before Justice Dixon but was adjourned to enable a settlement to be reached.

Maddens had also issued class actions for the Coleraine, Horsham and Weerite-Pomborneit bushfires.

The Coleraine action against Powercor has been settled, with the energy company agreeing to pay 55% of the assessed value of any property loss.

Approval of the settlement is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court on March 29.

An identical settlement has been reached with Powercor for the Horsham class action. The deadline for lodging claims was February 28.

The outstanding case is the Weerite-Pomborneit class action against Powercor, which will be heard in the Supreme Court at Warrnambool in September.

Mr Pendergast says a mediation session for the claim has been set for sometime in June.

The Kinglake bushfire class action against SPI Electricity, Utility Services Corporation, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, the Country Fire Authority and the State of Victoria is set to go to trial in January next year.