Carbone Lawyers managing partner Tony Carbone told NCA NewsWire that his firm would be pushing for around $20 million on compensation.
“The bottom line is these gardeners should have been working, how is it possible that a gardener working on their own outside can infect anyone,” he said.
“The government’s whole decision making on who can and can’t work was so arbitrary these gardeners have been left so destitute they are suffering from mental illness.”
Swinburne Law School Dean Mirko Bagaric said that this would “dwarf” any class-action lawsuit that had occurred previously and could be the biggest in Australia's history.
“Nearly every Victorian has been adversely affected by this,” he said.
Jim's Mowing founder Jim Penman said to NCA NewsWire that around 700 of his franchisees and self-employed tradesmen had been impacted by the lockdown, losing around $3,000 a week.
“We hold the Premier, the Health Minister and other senior ministers personally responsible for the failures of quarantine that unleashed this disaster upon our state,” Mr Penman said.
“Further, the Premier’s arbitrary action in ignoring the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services and barring sole operators from working, brought needless loss and misery upon many.
“The senseless waste of this measure is shown by the fact that council gardeners continued working in groups through the lockdown, thus raising the risk of infection.
“This senseless policy still continues, with dog grooming salons allowed to operate with multiple staff, while sole operators cannot. A rational policy would have insisted that all gardening and dog grooming work be done by individuals, thus reducing the risk of infection with far less mental and financial injury.”
He also said that Carbone Lawyers were “so confident' of the win that they've agreed to a “no win no fee” arrangement.
“Yes I’ve lost a bit of money during this but I’m not interested in getting that money back I just want every one of my franchisees to get every cent back because they’re the ones who are doing it tough and going through a lot of financial pressure,” the mowing magnate said.
This is the latest development after Penman revealed to seek compensation for individual franchises through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
He said that both legal pathways would still be going ahead with Mr Penman saying “both options will be pursued”.
“I don’t care how it’s done I just want the money to go back into the hands of these hard workers who should have never been prevented from working and earning an honest living.”
Jim's Mowing franchises were ordered to stop work on August 5 after the Premier's strict decision to not allow lawn mowing and garden maintenance during the new COVID-19 guidelines.
The Premier’s office was contacted for comment, with a spokesperson saying: “It would be inappropriate to comment on a matter before the courts”.
Hero image credit: jimsmowing.com.au
This article originally appeared on Over60.