SETTLEMENT ENDS CLASS ACTION OVER 2009 AUSTRALIA WILDFIRE
Parties reached a settlement agreement worth $235 million in compensation for victims of one of Australia's deadly 2009 wildfires. Defendants included Victoria government agencies and utility companies, with AusNet Electricity Services agreeing to the largest sum of $204.5 million. The settlement marks the end of a series of lawsuits stemming from fires that ravaged rural Victoria on February 7, 2009, in what has become known as "Black Saturday." Total compensation now amounts to approximately $627 million. The plaintiffs alleged that deficiencies in construction of a power pole resulted in a malfunctioning electrical conductor that ignited the Murrindini-Marysville fire. The blaze later joined with the Kilmore East-Kinglake fire, and together they engulfed over 650 square miles. Altogether, 173 people lost their lives and over 2,500 homes were destroyed in Australia's worst natural disaster ever. For the full story, see http://www.smh.com.au/victoria/ausnet-and-country-fire-authority-face-class-action-over-black-saturday-fire-at-marysville-20150202-1345e8.html and http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/02/06/us-australia-fires-idUKKBN0LA0KZ20150206.