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Festival Deaths at Defqon. Who is to Blame?

By 17 September 2018Personal Injury Law
festival deaths sue

The Sydney Dance Festival “Defqon” has allegedly claimed the deaths of 2 people over the weekend.

Joseph Pham, 23, from Sydney, had a cardiac arrest and died after a drug overdose and a 21-year-old woman from Melbourne also died.

Police subsequently reported that 13 others attended Nepean Hospital for treatment for drug-related issues, while an astonishing 700 people had to seek medical attention from medical staff located at the venue.

The deaths and surge of people requiring medical intervention have resulted in calls that festivals like Defqon implement pill testing and substantially increase police attendance.

But in circumstances such as this, when someone sadly dies or suffers adversely from an overdose at such an event, is there any legal recourse available to family members of the deceased or for those adversely affected by an overdose?

While there seems to be a lack of case law in this respect in Australia, in the United States, a lawsuit was filed by the parents of a 19-year-old girl who died of a drug overdose at a music festival in Connecticut. In that case, lawyers for the family of the young girl claimed that the festival owners should have been aware of the fact that such festivals are commonly associated with the availability of drugs such as Ecstasy. They further claimed that the dangers were largely ignored by the festival owners in favour of the profit potential.

In the United States, such cases are commonly referred to as “premises liability cases” and it follows that any business owner who invites the public onto his or her property owes a duty of care to its patrons. In the event that the owner, or manager, fails to inspect the premises and make them safe, he or she can be found legally responsible for injuries sustained on the property.

The same laws apply in Australia but are referred to as “public liability claims.” These laws recently applied in the successful litigation of a matter that involved a woman who attended a festival on the South Coast. In that case, the festival for it’s “winter” theme had projected snow like foam all over the dance floor which had, in turn, become very slippery. Consequently, the young woman slipped, injuring herself.

Issues were raised in this case by the festival owners that that suggested contributory negligence by the woman on the basis that she had been consuming alcohol at this event and therefore she must have been intoxicated.

The matter settled, and the young woman received approximately $200,000.

That matter, like the case in Connecticut, relied on the fact that the festival owner had a duty of care to minimise a reasonably foreseeable risk.

Given this, it’s not too difficult to suggest that there may be legal options available for those injured or the families of the deceased to seek compensation. Need help? Reach out to us!

In such matters, very strict time limits apply.