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Brad2912

TRRR Charges to be laid today

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Office of Workplace Health and Safety set to charge Ardent Leisure over 2016 tragedy

Four years after four people were killed at Dreamworld in the Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy, today the theme park’s parent company Ardent Leisure is expected to be charged.

Dreamworld’s parent company Ardent Leisure is expected to be charged today over the 2016 Thunder River Rapids tragedy that killed four people.

It is reported that the independent prosecutor appointed by the Office of Workplace Health and Safety after this year’s coronial inquest has concluded his assessment.

Families of the victims will this morning be informed of the outcome and charges are expected to be laid later today, Today Show reports.

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low died on the Thunder River Rapids ride.

A six-week inquest which wrapped up in December 2018 heard testimony from dozens of witnesses ranging from emergency services personnel to Dreamworld staff, but no family members took the witness stand.

Findings were handed in February this year with Dreamworld’s parent company Ardent Leisure referred to the Office of Industrial Relations.

Queensland Coroner James McDougall handed down a scathing 300-page findings into the tragedy where he labelled Dreamworld’s actions a ‘total failure’ and the hazards on the Thunder River Rapids ride posed ‘significant risk’ to patrons.

He said there had been a “systemic failure by Dreamworld to ensure all aspects of safety” and referred Ardent Leisure Limited to the Office of Industrial Relations (OIR).

https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/queensland/office-of-workplace-health-and-safety-to-charge-ardent-leisure-over-2016-tragedy/news-story/2541fe255f3e3d2f07db9ecbac315f79
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whilst obviously speculation, the news said something in the vicinity of a $3m fine for the business and jail time for some individuals was likely 

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What will happen if the operating subsidiary (Ardent Leisure Limited) can't foot the bill, especially when Ardent's US debt facilities only apply to the US operations? Also, would a government at any level give Ardent a bailout after this? It'd be a PR disaster if they did.

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I’m not sure on the first point about legalities around not being able to pay the fine, however I completely agree that the federal government handout that was already pulled would now have zero chance of being reintroduced or considered.
The government cannot, and won’t, be seen to be paying the financial penalties of a business who failed their own rules & regulations resulting in deaths. 

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I've no doubt they'd have been in communication (such as telephone, fax, email, tin cans with string, post, bull-roarer, smoke signals) with the WHS office (of the state of Queensland in the Commonwealth of Australia).

One can only speculate (guess, suppose, hypothesise) as to whether this is a factor though.

It could well be, if they knew the final outcome (findings, closure of investigation, charges to be laid) was due prior september (their proposed reopening deadline, due date or target) that they'd decided (concluded, resolved) it was easier to take the hit prior to opening (commencing trade, relaunching) - and the ASX release (statement, presser, response) was very quickly available (distributed, circulated), so they at least had some heads-up (warning, alert) about it.

But whether that influenced their decision (conclusion, resolution) to remain closed (shut, non-operational, cease of trade) for now is anyone's guess (supposition, speculation, hypothesis)...

Edited by AlexB
i felt I had to be more specific. Specific additions in brackets (parentheses)

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2 hours ago, AlexB said:

I've no doubt they'd have been in communication (such as telephone, fax, email, tin cans with string, post, bull-roarer, smoke signals) with the WHS office (of the state of Queensland in the Commonwealth of Australia).

One can only speculate (guess, suppose, hypothesise) as to whether this is a factor though.

It could well be, if they knew the final outcome (findings, closure of investigation, charges to be laid) was due prior september (their proposed reopening deadline, due date or target) that they'd decided (concluded, resolved) it was easier to take the hit prior to opening (commencing trade, relaunching) - and the ASX release (statement, presser, response) was very quickly available (distributed, circulated), so they at least had some heads-up (warning, alert) about it.

But whether that influenced their decision (conclusion, resolution) to remain closed (shut, non-operational, cease of trade) for now is anyone's guess (supposition, speculation, hypothesis)...

Did you explain this (make (an idea or situation) clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts.) clearly enough?
 

I must agree. I am sure they knew this could occur. Hence why the park has no reopened as many would have expected. 

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The industrial manslaughter laws came after the Dreamworld accident, so they cant be used in the case. Im pretty sure this is the reason they stayed closed. Let the news cycle pass and open on better terms.

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Class action against Gold Coast theme park operator Ardent Leisure looms as new legal battle for Dreamworld operator following charges

Ardent Leisure’s legal problems continue to mount following charges laid on Tuesday with news a class action has the numbers to proceed.

A CLASS action on behalf of stung Ardent Leisure shareholders alleging tens of millions in losses looms as a bigger financial headache for the Dreamworld theme park operator than charges laid on Tuesday after 2016’s four deaths on a ride malfunction. 

Ardent, opening Dreamworld along with WhiteWater World in time for September school holidays, is burning through $5-$10 million each month its parks are closed.

Work Health and Safety prosecutors on Tuesday issued three negligence charges against Ardent over the 2016 deaths of Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low with a maximum penalty of $4.5 million. Any fine imposed by the court is likely to be covered by Ardent’s insurance policies.

Parker Simmonds Solicitors commercial litigation director Bruce Simmonds said civil claims could end up in the hundreds of thousands but in most cases were covered by insurers. But as a result insurance premiums would increase.

IBISWorld senior industry analyst Liam Harrison said Ardent was already facing huge challenges prior to the charges.

“They’re hurting so much more from coronavirus. This legal battle might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back but could also be another thing to add to the pile of pain to the business for six to 12 months.”

EL & C Baillieu analyst Nick Caley said Ardent was in a sound financial position because of its sale last month of a 24.2 per cent stake in its US Main Event chain of bowling and family entertainment arcades to private equity’s RedBird Capital Partners for $117m.

“Financially it (the charges) is not an issue. They just sold 25 per cent of their US business. That has de-risked their financial position completely depending on how this virus goes,” Mr Caley said. “It is a pretty small part of the company now. Main Event is the dominant asset now. They still have working capital. In the overall scheme of things it is a small amount for Ardent.”

Another financial problem is a class action by Piper Alderman for Ardent shareholders.

The law firm alleges Ardent misled investors about safety and corporate governance in place at Dreamworld in years before the 2016 fatalities, causing Ardent’s shares to trade at an artificially inflated price.

Special counsel Lachlan Lamont said the claim had reached the number litigation funders need to proceed.

“A significant group of shareholders have signed up to the class action representing tens of millions of investment in the company,” he said. “Shareholders paid too much for a share in a company at risk of a massive disaster occurring and that did in fact occur.”

Mr Lamont said 13,000 Ardent shareholders in August, 2016, were eligible to be part of the class action, for people who bought shares between June 17, 2014 and October 25, 2016.

He said Piper Alderman had a July 30 hearing in Federal Court in Brisbane, seeking to access Ardent’s insurance policies and asking for policy particulars including director and officer insurance policies. “If they say they have no money but an insurance policy then we press on.”

https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/business/class-action-against-gold-coast-theme-park-operator-ardent-leisure-looms-as-new-legal-battle-for-dreamworld-operator-following-charges/news-story/24acc9f45e33b7b5708e449e3f1c98ce

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12 hours ago, Pyro said:

The industrial manslaughter laws came after the Dreamworld accident, so they cant be used in the case. Im pretty sure this is the reason they stayed closed. Let the news cycle pass and open on better terms.

Industrial manslaughter is used when a worker or someone carrying out a duty is killed.

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22 minutes ago, Brad2912 said:

Work Health and Safety prosecutors on Tuesday issued three negligence charges against Ardent over the 2016 deaths of Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low with a maximum penalty of $4.5 million. Any fine imposed by the court is likely to be covered by Ardent’s insurance policies.

Parker Simmonds Solicitors commercial litigation director Bruce Simmonds said civil claims could end up in the hundreds of thousands but in most cases were covered by insurers. But as a result insurance premiums would increase.

I've seen business insurance claims in the $10's of millions and the premiums only slightly increase (relative to the original premium) the next year. Admittedly the main claim that comes to mind was a structural fire and second was hail damage, not a Liability claim, but the outcome is similar.  If the maximum is $4.5million and they are expecting in the $100,000s then I can't see the premiums adjusting too much.

 

The premiums will likely have a higher increase if they can't meet new risk mitigation criteria which the insurance companies would have introduced after the event. 

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15 minutes ago, Naazon said:

 If the maximum is $4.5million and they are expecting in the $100,000s

The maximum $4.5million is the WH&S legislation penalty, not the civil suit damages. The class action is separate to that, and could exceed the penalties.

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1 hour ago, Gold Coast Amusement Force said:

Industrial manslaughter is used when a worker or someone carrying out a duty is killed.

Your half right, its used when a worker or someone carrying out an operation or task is killed or kills someone due to association with the plant. 

Industrial Manslaughter was changed to include any death as a result of plant, either in commission, decommission, maintenance, used or operation. This included register amusement rides (plant).

Any registered plant under the acts (WHS, P&G, Mining ect)  must have an executive officer and an executive safety officer (the description of offer may change between acts) The buck stops with them, they take on all the legal responsibility for the operation of the plant. 

These changes were introduced after several mine accidents and then were made wider to include the construction, electrical, Petrolium and Gas, Leisure and a few others. They were introduced after the Dreamworld accident, that is why they are not applicable to the case.

Currently several rewrites of major acts are underway that will also upgrade the responsibility of corporations and the executive to the use of their plants. 

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I'm not going to outright say you're incorrect, but my reading of the legislation is very specific that industrial manslaughter is specific to a worker:

Quote

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking commits an offence if—
(a)a worker
(i)dies in the course of carrying out work for the business or undertaking; or
(ii) is injured in the course of carrying out work for the business or undertaking and later dies; and
(b)the person’s conduct causes the death of the worker; and
(c)the person is negligent about causing the death of the worker by the conduct.

A worker is defined in the act very clearly, and would not extend to include members of the public attending the workplace, based on my reading

Quote

A person is a worker if the person carries out work in any capacity for a person conducting a business or undertaking, including work as—

(a)an employee; or
(b)a contractor or subcontractor; or
(c)an employee of a contractor or subcontractor; or
(d)an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work in the person’s business or undertaking; or
(e)an outworker; or
(f)an apprentice or trainee; or
(g)a student gaining work experience; or
(h)a volunteer; or
(i)a person of a prescribed class

 

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private certifiers sign off on the plant. WH&S QLD can't inspect every plant installation in the state and rely on third party certifiers who are supposed to have qualifications that make them fit to do so.

I believe the coroner actually criticised the certifiers - apparently things were signed off on paperwork alone, and no actual inspection was done... my memory is a little rusty though, so i could be wrong about that.

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2 hours ago, AlexB said:

private certifiers sign off on the plant. WH&S QLD can't inspect every plant installation in the state and rely on third party certifiers who are supposed to have qualifications that make them fit to do so.

I believe the coroner actually criticised the certifiers - apparently things were signed off on paperwork alone, and no actual inspection was done... my memory is a little rusty though, so i could be wrong about that.

I've had lifts in buildings I have managed get there certificates issued each year, never inspected by a third party. Possibly the service company was doing them.

Body Corporate would pay the invoice and a few weeks later I'd have to stick up a new certificate in the lift.

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There was also something raised during the inquest. DW had requested their certificate be extended because they haven't had a chance to get the inspector in yet but essentially it should be fine because it's been running without issue for 35 years

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well, also according to the coroners report, the current 'guy' in charge of that shit also had no knowledge of any prior incidents, because nobody told him, and there was no proper system to record them, if my memory serves...

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Ah well in that case it's not DW's fault then. They had a systemic failure of communication and were too cheap to install a sensor to prevent an issue that they reckon they'd not heard of. Bloody government.

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